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Leap of Faith: Land Diving with the Vanuatu

We’ve all heard the time aged advice. Throw a child in the water, and it will learn to swim. Our lives are filled with experiences and personal transformations.

From birth to to adulthood, the milestones in our lives define who we are. Leaps of faith taken over time result in the accomplishments of today.

However, western society severely lacks the rites of passage compared to yesterday’s generation. Western civilization merges various cultures and consists of a large population count, resulting in the dilution of individual culture (A neutral thing, neither good, nor bad). 

Clinical depression is at an all time high. Today’s young adults accomplish less at later ages while clinging to immature habits and attitudes.

Tribal cultures whose rituals have out stood the test of time have much to teach our generation.

Vanuatu Land Diving

For a brief moment, absorb the culture of Vanuatu… where the men dive head first into the ground — a literal leap of faith, to test their courage.

In Vanuatu, a a small pacific island of 200,000, men take part in a yearly harvest ritual known as Land Diving: an ancient form of bungee jumping. Vanuatu Land Diving is considered a Rite of Passage, as well as an ongoing ritual that takes place throughout harvest season.

With bare hands and caveman tools, villages gather to construct wooden tree branch towers of 100+ feet in height. Dancing rituals take place.

Volunteers determine the length of the tree vines and tie it to their ankles and the tower before the dive. Unlike modern bungee jumping, tree vines snap and are not elastic.

Miscalculation can result in broken collar bones, arms, and spinal injury.

The head first dive can reach up to 45 miles per hour. The goal of the jumper is to land close enough to the ground just as the tree vine snaps to result in a harmless impact. During the jump, the divers avoid impalement by the branches on the wooden tower, and also must jump outwards.

If the tree vine is too short, it will snap prematurely and the diver will plummet to the ground.

If the tree vine is too long, it will not snap and the diver will land with full force.

The Land Diving ritual has stood its time for 15 centuries. It serves two purposes: A sacrifice to the gods for the yearly harvest, and as a rite of initiation into adulthood.

Dive with Calculated Faith

It is the ultimate act of “Putting money where your mouth is“. Not enough people do this today.

Now, I have never done this, and I can’t tell you that this is a sane thing for anybody to do. But so many of us in today’s society are afraid of taking leaps of faith and accurately calculating (thinking).

Many of people today –young and aged, are afraid of moving to new places or discovering new things. We become complacent living in the cities we grew up in or have established ourselves. We only move to places where we already have friends or family.

Some never get out of their comfort zone. Others take leaps of faith, but without accurate calculation.

The majority of us make hasty decisions without thinking.

Note that the Land Divers are not blindly jumping towards the ground. Each diver takes time to predict and determine the length of the vine with which they jump with.

So take note, and learn from the Vanuatu Land Divers.

The Vanuatu can teach us that today’s society requires more rites of passage and more leaps of calculated faith.

Diving with calculated faith is to briefly evaluate a decision and immediately act on it.

Without ever trying to change our environments, who we are, and what we do, no wonder today’s generation is so immature. To grow, you must change.

Embrace and create a rite of passage for yourself. Your Land Diving Ritual can be as small as a commitment to the gym, to as big as a major career decision.

The Lesson: Dive with Calculated faith.

Recommended Reading:

The Alchemist

Killing Lions: A Guide Through the Trials Young Men Face


Recommended Reading

Outwitting The Devil is my favorite book which expounds on this topic of accurate thinking and faith. While abstract at times, Napoleon Hill carries a great message to us in the modern day in his interview with the “Devil”. I will be writing a review on it soon.

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