James Van Praagh, one of the world’s best-known spiritual mediums, bridges the gap between the living and dead by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages. The first of his five books, Talking To Heaven, served as the inspiration for the 2002 CBS mini-series, "Living With The Dead," starring Ted Danson. That mini-series, in turn, inspired "Ghost Whisperer," a current CBS drama starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and co-executive produced by Van Praagh. His daytime talk show, "Beyond With James Van Praagh," aired in the U.S. during the 2002-2003 season, and is still being shown throughout the world. For more information, visit www.vanpraagh.com
I’ve had quite a few memorable experiences. One of my earliest encounters with the spiritual realm was when I was in my early twenties and my life was saved by spirit. This was long before I started doing the work I do now.
It was past midnight on a Saturday night and I was at a party. I was driving an old car – I think it was a 1967 Impala – because I had just moved to Los Angeles and I had no money. The gas gauge on the dashboard didn’t work, so I had to go by mileage to estimate how much gas I had left. Sure enough, on my way home at one in the morning, I ran out of gas. Thank God, it was at a busy intersection in Hollywood and there was a gas station right on the corner. I walked over to the station and they filled up a gas can for me.
Like a lot of older cars, the gas tank was under the license plate, so I went around to the back of the car and kneeled down to open it. That’s when I found out that the gas can they had given me was leaking. Still, I was trying to make it work when, suddenly, I noticed an older man with snow-white hair standing to my right. I remember that he had very sweet eyes.
He said, "You must go back to the service station and get another gas can right away."
I didn’t even question him. I don’t know why. I guess I was just in a really weird state, because I had run out of gas in the middle of a busy intersection at one in the morning on a Saturday night in Hollywood.
So I got up and walked back over to the service station to get a new gas can. As I was knocking on the window, I heard a loud bang. I looked back and watched in shock as my car rolled down the street, onto a sidewalk and into a lamp post. A car had plowed into mine from behind. I looked for the old man but he was nowhere to be found, even though only a half a minute had passed. I was so shaken that it didn’t dawn on me until the next morning that I could have easily been killed. If it wasn’t for that man, I would’ve been bent over putting gas in my tank and that car would’ve driven right into me. Looking back, I know he was an angel. I have no doubt about it.
A few years after that, I visited a very famous medium in England named Leslie Flint. He was referred to as a physical medium because, during his sessions, actual voices would appear in the air through an artificial voice box. In my session, a guide came through and told me I’d be doing this work.
He said, "You’re going to be writing a book. You’re going to be helping many people. We have big plans for you. This day you’ll not understand what we say, but years from now you will understand what we are talking about."
I was just beginning to develop my psychic abilities, so I can’t say I was too surprised, although the last thing I wanted to do was write a book. Being a very skeptical person, however, I still wasn’t convinced that the session was on the level. So I asked Mr. Flint if my mother was also there. And she did come through. She used my nickname and it was her voice. So I knew it was real.
A couple other stories also stick out in my mind. About six years ago, I did a reading for a couple. Their 18-year-old son, Christopher, who had died in a car accident, came through right away. Not surprisingly, they were very emotional.
The son said, "Dad, I had to come over at this time, because I had to fulfill our destiny together."
None of us knew what he was talking about.
I told the father, "Your son is now telling me he’s going to help you. You’re going to work with your hands."
The father didn’t understand what that meant, but said he was open to it. A few months later, this man, whose name is Bill Moller, called me up and said, "James, ever since that night, you’ll never believe what’s been happening. When I go by certain people, my hands begin to burn and I feel drawn to put my hands on someone or toward someone." Well, Bill is now an incredible healer who’s opened a healing center and written a book called The Gift of Hands That Heal.
His son Chris passed over to help him become a healer. It’s clear to me that people sometimes leave this life to fulfill a destiny that they had agreed upon prior to incarnating. I think that’s pretty cool.
More recently, I was featured at an event in Lilydale in New York in August 2003. This center for spiritualism is the largest in the world and I was doing a demonstration for a thousand people. In the middle of relaying messages, a man came to me and said he had died in a roller coaster, that he had been pulled up on the track by his hair. But when I passed his information along, no one in the audience claimed it. I’ve learned that sometimes people don’t want to stand up or be acknowledged in a crowd, so I just left it and moved on.
That night, on the plane home, I was reading the newspaper and there it was, a story about a man who had died in a roller coaster when his hair got caught on the track. Isn’t that wild? That had never happened before, someone coming to me like that who had just passed out of body.
Although I love doing this work, I have to admit that when my psychic abilities first began manifesting, I was a little leery. Although I wasn’t resistant to working with spirits, it was a big responsibility and I didn’t know how much responsibility I wanted to have with people’s lives. But with time, I knew without a doubt that this was my calling – I saw the effect my work had on people, the healing that took place, and how profoundly their lives changed. When you alleviate fear of death, people are finally able to fully live life.
I realize now that every day is a miracle and I’m really just the instrument. Like everybody else, it’s easy to get caught up in my work – I do the TV shows, I write the books, I do the seminars. I often don’t think about the effect I’ve had on so many lives until I’m at a book signing and someone comes up to me and says, "I was going to commit suicide, but I read your book and decided not to." That happens frequently. And that’s worth everything. I’m very proud of the work I do when I hear comments like that.
I often think that if I can help one person like that, imagine how rewarding it can be to bring this information through to millions of people and see them transformed for the better. I never expected that I would be influencing mass consciousness about the spirit world. And I have. And that’s a great thing. What else could I ask for? That’s why I do this work.
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