Willie Unsoeld and the Spiritual Values of Wilderness

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Willie Unsoeld, along with Kurt Hahn are some of the biggest influences on Mountain Spirit’s founder. There is large collection of material on Unsoeld at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Here is a snapshot of Unosoeld’s thinking, taken from a lecture.

The Spiritual Values of Wilderness
From Pacific Crest Outward Bound School Book of Readings

And so what is the final test of the efficacy of this wilderness experience we’ve just been through together? Because having been there, in the mountains, alone, in the midst of solitude, and this feeling, this mystical feeling if you will, of the ultimacy of joy and whatever there is. The question is, “Why not stay out there in the wilderness the rest of your days and just live in the lap of Satori or whatever you want to call it?” And the answer, my answer to that is, “Because that’s not where people are.” And the final test for me of the legitimacy of the experience is, “How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?”

And now you see how this phases with the role of wilderness, It’s a renewal exercise and as I visualize it, it leads to a process of alternation. You go to nature for your metaphysical fix – your reassurance that there’s something behind it all and it’s good. You come back to where people are, to where people are messing things up, because people tend to, and you come back with a new ability to relate to your fellow souls and to help your fellow souls relate to each other.

Willi Unsoeld, Former Director of Northwest Outward Bound
Founding Board Member of Evergreen State College
[Edited: Male references replaced with non-gender specific terms]

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