Philip grew up in Moorhead and Dilworth, Minnesota. He studied architecture at North Dakota State University in Fargo, for three years, and creative writing for one year. He completed studies for a B.Arch. at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in December 1969. In 1974, he began studying with a Buddhist meditation teacher, Kema Ananda. He moved to the Township of Devon, District of Thunder Bay, Ontario, to work developing a Buddhist meditation centre, now the Arrow River Forest Hermitage, a Theravada Buddhist monastery and retreat centre.
In 1978 he returned to employment in Winnipeg, gaining registration with the Manitoba Association of Architects in 1979. He worked in architecture and structural engineering until 1993, when he moved to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to begin work as a Project Officer managing Arctic and Subarctic design and construction projects for the Department of Public Works and Services of the territorial government. In 2001 he relocated with the same employment to Hay River where he lived until his retirement in 2011, including one year as Acting Regional Project Manager.
He became a certified Project Management Professional in 2000, a certified arbitrator in 2007, and a certified permaculture designer in 2013, He now lives in Peterborough, Ontario, practicing poetry and permaculture.