While in Nashville promoting his current book, Reaching to Heaven: A Spiritual Journey Through Life and Death, James Van Praagh visited with BookPage. Highlights of the conversation follow.
James Van Praagh: When you write about esoteric things, it can be way out there. I wanted to give this information to people so they can understand it regardless of their background.
BookPage: You demystify it. It's not as if you have the key and no one else does.
JVP: That's right, everyone has it. I wrote this book to help people access that greater part of themselves and to have the courage to be who they really are. Everyone can experience loving himself and opening up to awareness. Fear holds us back. Fear or love. That's all there is. We make all our decisions based on these two things. And 90 percent of the people in the world make their decisions based on fear. When you open up to awareness, it frees up your whole life. Once you realize you're a spiritual being, you see life so differently. You respect things. You're more responsible to yourself and others.
BP: You've worked so hard to develop your skill as a medium.
JVP: Thank you. God Bless you. Not many people realize this. I spent 20 years of sitting in dark rooms every Tuesday night developing this ability. I wasn't an overnight success. Spirit planned the whole thing, but I also worked for it. I never wanted to be an author or thought I could be. I had been doing private readings for ten years when my guides said, "We want you to reach more people." Then I said "How?" They said, "You're going to write a book." And I said, "Oh, yeah sure, I'm going to write a book. No way." But I did an outline. And I got pushed by my development circle. Other people in the circle began receiving messages from my guide, Dr. Harry, he's an Englishman, who'd say "You have to finish this book. It's important to the world." So I finally said okay and did two chapters and then kept going.
BP: I was most intrigued by the chapter in which you spoke of the higher realms of heaven.
JVP: As we were talking about earlier, we limit ourselves so much. And, we limit heaven too. We think it's a place where angels just play harps. And hell has to be fire and brimstone. But that's very untrue. That's man's interpretation of what the spirit world is. But the spirits talk of many levels. It's not a physical level where you go up the steps to get to the next one. It's consciousness and how evolved spiritually you are.
BP: I also liked your chapter on children.
JVP: Thank you. It's very important to instill values in children. We unfortunately are conditioned at a very young age, "You have to do this to be loved." That's why I put in the children. You have to open them up early, encourage them, and listen to them. I want to write a book about teaching children about death and dying. It will be a book that parents and children can read together. I want to teach parents how they can help their kids with death, grief, and losing things, the journey of life.
BP: With your busy schedule, do you still have time to read?
JVP: Yes, I do read, but not as much as I'd like to. I take five books at once and just scan through them. I do like a good mystery. I'm reading Edgar Allan Poe now. I also like autobiographies. I love people, studying people. That's the Scorpio part of me. We are natural detectives; we like to find things out.