Talking to Heaven: A Medium's Message of Life After Death by James Van Praagh
Though James Van Praagh assures his readers that everyone is born with psychic ability, it is clear from his book that he is especially gifted--he revealed his ability in the first grade. Written with charm and wry humor, and brimming with astonishing stories, this book will not only convince readers of the existence of life after death, but it will show them what death actually is, and what it means. After introducing us to his own evolution as a practicing psychic, Van Praagh explains how mediums work, and the various ways messages are received from those who have passed over. He also discusses karma, the activities of spiritual "guides," and the significance of execution, disease, suicide and accidents. The book concludes with a comprehensive program for developing our own latent abilities, so that we can, at last, connect with our lost loves ones--not only for reassurance, but for life changing inspiration.
The following is an edited version of James Von Praagh’s Bodhi tree presentation.
James Van Praagh: The first medium I ever met was an Englishman named Brian Hurst, who said to me as soon as he saw me, "There are lights around you and you're going to do what I'm doing in two years." I didn't believe a word of it, but it got me very, very interested in psychic phenomena, and about two years later, I was indeed doing psychic work--at a modest level. Friends would call me up and ask me for advice, mostly about their love lives. One day, a very specific message came through for the first time. I said to my client, "I don't know about your love life but there's a lady, a grandmother, who's telling me about Idaho." And she goes, "Well, that's where my grandmother lived." And I said, "I'm seeing a white house with yellow shutters." "Yes," she replied, "That was her house." And I continued, "There's a rose petal foot stool here." And she said, "My grandmother needlepointed and she made a rose petal foot stool and she always insisted that it was at her feet when she sat down on the chair."
That was the start of my career as a medium. All the time there was a sense of love and peace running right through me. In time, spirit said to me, "If you work with us full time, we'll take care of you." I quit my job and within months, I was booked up at least two or three months ahead, doing several readings a day.
Later, I was invited to a very special seance with Leslie Flint, a famous physical medium. During the seance, I was very skeptical, telling myself that the guy was nothing more than a ventriloquist. Then, suddenly a Frenchman's voice came through and said, "I want to talk to James! I want to talk to James! James! You're a sensitive. You'll help many people. You'll write a book one day. We will help you try to get the word out about life after death, and it will help many, many people." Well, here is the book--his words did come true.
Spirit people are always around and always helping us. If we just take the time to listen--to listen to ourselves, number one; and then to listen around us--our lives would be a lot easier. Love is eternal, God is eternal, and life on earth is our school. We go through our lessons, then we move on to the next level. That's really all there is to it.
We need to enjoy as much as we can on this earth-level while we're here. Remember, what you give out, you always get back. The seeds that you sow, so shall you reap. I've heard a lot of regret, from many who have passed over. They didn't realize it until too late, but their thoughts, their words and their deeds really mattered. Say you're in a bad mood and you yell at your bank teller. You upset her in turn, and she takes it out on her co-worker. Then that co-worker yells at someone else. So it goes, further and further. When you pass over, you see all the positive things you did, all the negative things you did and all the in-between things you did. This isn't about the grandiose acts, like giving hundreds or millions of dollars to a charity, it 's about the little things, like opening the door for someone, or yelling at that bank teller. You feel how the other person felt. You see how your one action was responsible for a number of people feeling bad. You see how we're all connected. Be careful with your thoughts, words and deeds. And when its your turn to pass over and you say to your guides, "Well, I didn't know about this sort of thing." They'll say, "Yes, you did, because on January 7, 1998, you went to see James Van Praagh and he told you about it!"
When you live in love consciousness, you notice that some people in your life fall away but those who are attracted to love consciousness come closer, because like attracts like. We're all energy. When it's time to pass over, you leave the physical body and you go to a spirit world which is at a faster vibration, a faster frequency. It's an energetic frequency of thoughts and mental worlds.
Question: Do you communicate with your dead parents?
Van Praagh: The hardest part of mediumship is really discerning between your own thoughts and that of the spirit. That was the hardest part of my learning mediumship. When my mother comes through, I get a nice feeling with her but its hard to be objective. Actually, my mother in the physical world was not there for me in many ways because she was an alcoholic. Yet when she passed over, she saw that she was not there for me and now she's come back to be a guide of mine. This happens quite frequently. People realize that they weren't able to be with their loved one on earth and they really regret that. So they try to help from a spiritual point of view. My mother has helped me quite a bit.
Question: Do we all go to the same place when we pass over?
Van Praagh: After a fashion. There are various spiritual levels which exist. You enter the level you created based upon your thoughts, words and deeds. Most average, everyday people go to a nice place. People who don't have any consciousness go to a lower place. Those with very spiritual high nature go to a higher place.
Question: Would you say the spiritual realm is our true home?
Van Praagh: We are, first and foremost spirit beings. This physical body is just a vehicle.
Question: What about animals?
Van Praagh: Animals survive. The love bond between them and humans continues. I told one girl, "There's a lady here and she's a grandmother and she's bringing you a black and white kitten." And she started crying and said, "On the way here, all I could think about was my black and white cat who died just last week." "Well," I continued, "Grandmother's bringing him to you now." And she smiled, "She gave me that cat as a kitten when I was a little girl." You'll see your pets again. Many times.
Question: You say people who are executed by way of capitol punishment are still tormented souls and they're angry and they search the earth for humans in order to use them.
Van Praagh: If people are killed before their time, they can remain angry because their lives are not finished yet. Many of those executed, especially the guilty ones, want to come back, because they don't have the consciousness to move on to a spiritual plane. They want revenge and often try to influence other people on earth. For example, we all have an etheric body, and if you do a lot of drinking or drugs, little pinprick holes appear in your aura. Some spirits on a very low consciousness, who perhaps miss the physical sensation of inebriation, want to re-experience it. So they attach themselves to that individual at a bar, for example, and by that person drinking, they experience the alcohol. At that point they can manipulate that individual.
Question: Some say if you're not very smart on this side, when you pass over, you're not very smart on the other side either.
Van Praagh: But you gain your soul. Though your soul and your mind are pretty much connected, your brain is not. Your brain is in the physical. Still, every experience you have on this earth builds up your soul level, so it never hurts to learn. Some people are more developed on an emotional level than an intellectual level. Many people ask me, "How can you know, when a spirit comes through, whether they know any more than you do?" Or, "Why do we listen to these people?" The truth is, we shouldn't, because, in some ways, they don't know any more than they did down here. But they see things just a little bit ahead and a little bit behind so they can warn you of things that will be coming or they can help steer you in a better direction. But if you're meant to go through an experience because of karmic obligations, then you have to go through it. They can't help you, but they can try to influence you.
Question: What about young soldiers that die before their time. Do they feel cheated?
Van Praagh: Yes. Sometimes. But it's possible they have to go through that experience because in a prior lifetime they may have they killed someone at that age, so they have to re-live what they did to someone else. Your question reminds me of time I spent with Dr. Brian Weiss in a past life regression. I went in thinking, "This is not going to work for me." Next thing I suddenly saw myself dressed as various generals . . . six lifetimes I went through this military thing. My guides showed me that I came back this time to help people with death, with healing, because I was responsible in those six lifetimes for pushing soldiers into war to kill thousands of people.
Question: What is the period in between lifetimes?
Van Praagh: The average time for reincarnation is 200 earth years. It can be shorter, though we tend to come back in soul groups--with family and friends to work out our karma with them. It all depends on what is optimum for our soul's growth.
Question: Could your pet come back with you then?
Van Praagh: Not necessarily. Humans and animals belong to two separate kingdoms. Your cat can come back as your cat again, or your bird, or your dog. It's likely that it stays in its own species.
Question: What techniques do you use for separating your thoughts from your guide's thoughts?
Van Praagh: I get into a very receptive, alpha state. I've been doing this for fourteen years, so I can get right into that state. That's how I discern between myself and that other individual coming through in spirit.
Question: You refer to our earth lives in terms of a school. What's the ultimate objective?
Van Praagh: This is only one level of experience. Here, we experience life and learn about life, and how great it can be. Most people come down in the physical world to learn about love. And this is not simple, since there are many aspects of love. The ultimate, of course, is pure love and pure being which, I think, is beyond our comprehension in some way so long as we exist on the physical plane.
Question: I was wondering about your views on those who do not feel comfortable on the earth plane.
Van Praagh: There are some people who come back before their time. They want to rush back and eliminate some negative karma. When they pass over and they see their life reviewed, they go, "Oh, God. If I only had the chance to do that over again, I would eliminate that immediately." There is a natural ebb and flow to life, but these souls insist on coming back into a incarnation way before things are put in place. Then they walk around here thinking, "I don't belong here. There's something not right."
Question: My mother was murdered, and no-one--not even any medium--has been able figure out who took her life.
Van Praagh: It may be difficult because she has moved to another level. You have to realize that the information that comes through very much depends on the ability of the medium. Some mediums are more skilled than others. Some people are better painters than others, some are better doctors than others . . . every medium is very, very different. It also depends on the spirit who wants to communicate. The more emotional they are, the easier it is for me, personally, to pick them up, because I work on an emotional level. And if you, the sitter are open, then the message comes through even more easily.
Question: I get information on people around me, and I'm trying to ask who I'm talking to, but I'm not getting clarity.
Van Praagh: Tune more into the inner world instead of the outer world, then you'll begin to get this information. You begin to become part of the energy flowing through you and then you become able to recognize the various entities that are coming through you. Then you'll pick up whether it's a female or a male energy, and whether it's a mother, a father, girlfriend or whatever. I put numerous meditation exercises in the book to help you get to this level. I also suggest that people who are mediumistic sit in a development circle which is made up of six to eight people who sit every week. This way you build up your energy so your spirit guides and teachers can develop you from the inside out.
Question: Does the information you receive change? For example if you receive it from different people?
Van Praagh: Well, you have your own guides that work with you, and you have to become familiar with them. You can have different guides for different times in your life. Let's say you want to paint, for example. Well, you will attract an individual being, a guide, a teacher who will help you to do this. Maybe they specialized in the type of painting you want to pursue. You will draw them to you. Maybe you're a writer who wants to write a great mystery. Then you'll attract a writer who'll help you write this book. I didn't write my book alone. I had a lot of spirits influencing me.
Question: Would you talk a little bit about the relationship between free will and karma?
Van Praagh: We arrive into incarnation with lessons we have to learn in order to develop and evolve. Our physical body exists simply to lead us through these different lessons. Our ego-self, which is in control of our free will lead us here or there, but our god-self will always bring us back to the path. We experience this for a little bit and then we say, "Oh, this does not work. It doesn't feel right here. Let's move on to something else." And we'll go on to the next thing. But just remember, you reap what you sow.