John P. Milton

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Biographical Information

"John's vision quest and shamanic work began in the mid-1940's, after experiencing his first vision quest at the age of seven... John received his M.S. in Ecology and Environmental Conservation from the University of Michigan in 1962 and 1963; he was also a student at Mexico City College, and the OAS Inter-American Graduate School of Tropical Science in Costa Rica. A leader in his field, John focused attention on the environmental impacts of bilateral and multilateral organizations involved globally in economic development projects. During these years, he played an instrumental role in the birth of the environmental movement from the early 1960's, as well as the Tropical Forest and Alaska wilderness protection movements of the 1970's and 1980's. Following a landmark study conference that John designed by the same name, his 1966 book, "Future Environments of North America," was a first in opening the use of the word, "Environment" to describe our culture's paradigm shift into a responsibly ecological view of our oneness with Earth. With David Brower, John also was a founder of Friends of the Earth, both the United States-based organization, as well as many of the Friends of the Earth Organizations in other countries.

"Between 1963 and 1972 he directed the International Programs Division of the Conservation Foundation, now a part of the World Wildlife Fund - WWF), in both New York and Washington, D.C. Between 1966 and 1973, he lead two major programs to transform cultural awareness of the ecological impacts of development. His first program was a project to commission fifty scientists to prepare several hundred comprehensive case studies on the then relatively little-recognized ecological impacts of economic development projects world-wide. This culminated in a major conference and his 1070 page book "The Careless Technology: Ecology and International Development." His other program was to distill the central ecological principles from all the case studies. This work was published in his 1973 book, "Ecological Principles for Economic Development." Taken together, these two programs and books played a major international role in shifting global awareness towards ecological and environmental sustainability. In the early 1970's, John was the first ecologist on staff at the White House, working with the President's Council of Economic Advisors. He went on to be awarded a position as a Woodrow Wilson Resident Scholar for a year at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars located in the original "Castle Building of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Between 1979 and 1981 he was visiting professor of Environmental Studies at Sangamon State University in Springfield, Illinois, and Director of its Center for Urban and Regional Studies. During this period, he developed a number of design projects to model how ecological sustainability can work at household, neighborhood, small town, city, farm, and entire watershed levels. His work on distilling core ecological principles for application to economic and community development were the unique element in this work to create models of sustainability for human cultures. He has also served on a variety of committees at the National Academy of Sciences...

"John has also authored numerous books, articles and audiotapes, as well as produced video/CD/DVD media on ecology, environmental conservation, meditation, cultivating life energy, inner development, discovering and protecting sacred places, preserving wilderness and the shamanic way. Some of his publications include: The Future Environments of North America, 1966, Doubleday and Co.; Nameless Valleys, Shining Mountains, 1970, Walker & Co.; The Careless Technology: Ecology and International Development, 1972, Doubleday & Co.; Earth and the Great Weather: The Brooks Range, 1973, Friends of the Earth; Ecological Principles for Economic Development, 1973, John Wiley & Sons; The Last Great Wilderness, Wilderness USA, 1973, National Geographic Society; Sky Above, Earth Below: A Complete Course on Spiritual Practice in Nature, 1999, Sounds True (six audio tape set). In 2001 and 2002, working with Sarah Sher and The Way of Nature Productions, he released a CD and DVD entitled The Sacred Land Trust, and a preliminary VHS tape on The 12 Principles. His work scheduled for release includes: a multi-angled DVD on T'ai Chi Ch'uan; five 90 minute DVDs and a book on John's Qi Gong system; and a DVD and audiotape series on his Twelve Principles...

"In the early 1970's he established Threshold, a foundation devoted to innovative environmental work coupled with opening the way to spiritual liberation in Great Nature. Later came Sacred Passage and The Way of Nature Fellowship, as well as The Golden Flower School, where he has instructed T'ai Chi for over 25 years. Threshold, Sacred Passage, and The Way of Nature programs all inspire Earth Stewardship by cultivating natural wisdom and an open, loving heart in the wild.

"Under Threshold, John and several associates have also established the Sacred Land Trust, dedicated to preserving and lovingly communing with natural areas holding special sacred qualities. These areas are integral to deepening each individual's harmony with Nature, and enhancing their capability for spiritual liberation. All this work demonstrates John's life long devotion to the mystery of Gaia, and to the process of human liberation, allowing deep ecological and spiritual values to guide his own path. "[1]

In an interview from 2006 he noted " There are two individuals that have played a key role here. The first one is Maurice Strong. He took some of my ideas about new types of technologies that were in alignment with the ecosystem and economics from the environmental movement and presented them in The Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in the early 1970’s. Maurice’s wife, Hanne Strong, has also been a strong ally of mine for years, and still is. She was the one to introduce the other key person into the process. That person is Brian Arthur, a leading economist, writer and thinker. ( Hanna knew about my background in Taoism and interest in technology and economics that I shared with Brian and she learned about Brian’s interest in Taoism and Nature. She thought it only fitting to bring us together. That was in 1992. Brian immediately embarked on his first passage here in Crestone. He now holds the record for number of passages done with me by anyone. ... Firstly I will be consulting with the Tällberg Forum ( people. Like you and Brian Arthur I attended the Forum earlier this summer. One of the activities that was offered to the Forum participants this year was an overnight outdoor event, “Re-connecting with nature” that I co-facilitated with Brian and Göran Gennvi from Natureakademin." [1]

See his 1973 in my book called Ecological Principles for Economic Development. His latest book is Sky Above, Earth Below: Spiritual Practices in Nature, published by Sentient Publications.


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. sacredpassage John P. Milton, organizational web page, accessed March 21, 2013.