Clearing And Wising

Andrew Taggart
21 min readOct 26, 2020


The question I ask in this long form essay is: “Why are people not kinder to one another and to all sentient beings? Why, indeed, is not kindness the default mode?”

And the answer I come to is this one: we are not clear and we are not wise.

I’d like to take you on the path that brought me here.


“Man is immersed in dreams… He lives in sleep… He is a machine.”

–G.I. Gurdjieff

I. Living in a Dream

Until the age of 29, I had been living in a dream. Indeed, I had been immersed in one. It told me: “You are here to think about humans in the objective world. You can do this through an institution called ‘a university.’ Go and devote yourself to this pursuit by finishing a Ph.D. and by getting an academic job.”

After all those years of living in this dream, I unexpectedly swerved. I finished a Ph.D. and knew something was wrong.

In January 2009, I spent countless hours looking out of my kitchen window into the backyard. There, hanging from the eaves was a bird feeder. The bird feeder had–presumably by past tenants of this house–been attached to the eaves via a coat hanger that had been pulled apart and subsequently MacGyvered.