This quote is widely attributed to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

The bad news is, you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.

Among the many instances on the web, the only pointer to an actual citation of Trungpa Rinpoche's work I can find is on page 239 of Sacred Groundlessness: Deepening the Ethics of Mindfulness in the Midst of Global Crisis by Lama Karma, chapter 13 of Handbook of Ethical Foundations of Mindfulness, edited by Stanley, Purser and Singh.

That pageless citation, however, is to The collected works of Chögyam Trungpa (Vol. 8) and seems to be incorrect. I have that book in electronic form, and searches on numerous words and phrases from the quote (ground, parachute, news, etc) do not turn up the quote or anything close. That's the only work of Trungpa Rinpoche cited in that chapter. The only other of his work in the edited volume is his very popular Cutting through Spiritual Materialism, and the quote is not in that either.

My question -- Can anybody identify a work or teaching by Trungpa Rinpoche that contains that quote or something like it, or say with some assurance that he did not actually say or write it. And if it's not his, who did say it?

  • 1
    This sounds very similar to the River Sutta.
    – ruben2020
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:20
  • David did you ever find the source of the quote?
    – Michael
    Feb 20, 2021 at 15:39
  • @Michael Not really -- I think it must have been originally oral or not Trungpa Rinpoche's -- can't find it written anywhere clearly attributed to him. Feb 21, 2021 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


In Smiling at Fear, in the chapter titled "Facing Yourself", Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says:

The only way to relax with yourself is to open your heart. Then you have a chance to see who you are. This experience is like opening a parachute. When you jump out of an airplane and open the chute, you are there in the sky by yourself. Sometimes it is very frightening, but on the other hand, when you take this step, the whole situation, the whole journey, makes sense. You have to actually do it, and then you will understand.

  • 1
    Useful -- thanks! But with a parachute. ;) Dec 21, 2020 at 18:16

I think I heard this line in a lecture by Ram Dass, probably from the 80's, that I may still have somewhere on cassette. I don't think he credits Trungpa in the lecture. My guess is that he got the idea from Trungpa and expanded on it. This could explain why it was posted by his association to their FB page in 2013 (link below) yet credited to Trungpa. I would ask them.

Note that Smiling at Fear seems to date the material for "Facing Yourself" to lectures given in 1978.



The myth of freedom. This sort of thing is referenced towards the beginning of the book. On egolessness.

  • Thanks! Do you think you may be able to find the exact quote?
    – Andriy Volkov
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:37
  • I've searched a PDF of The Myth of Freedom for all the substantive words in the quote -- ground, air, fall, news, parachute -- and cannot find it. I'd love to see anything close, but am still drawing a blank. Jun 10, 2023 at 1:02

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