Reaching to Heaven: A Spiritual Journey Through Life and Death


James Van Praagh has touched the lives of millions with his extraordinary ability to communicate with the world beyond. In Talking to Heaven, his acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller, he shared that gift and showed us how to break down the barrier between the earthly and heavenly realms to reach loved ones we have lost. Now, in Reaching to Heaven, he continues his uplifting and transcendent message and reveals how to chart a course for living as spiritual beings in a physical ...
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James Van Praagh has touched the lives of millions with his extraordinary ability to communicate with the world beyond. In Talking to Heaven, his acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller, he shared that gift and showed us how to break down the barrier between the earthly and heavenly realms to reach loved ones we have lost. Now, in Reaching to Heaven, he continues his uplifting and transcendent message and reveals how to chart a course for living as spiritual beings in a physical world that will sustain and fill us for decades to come.

In this guide to inner peace and spiritual healing, the renowned medium shows us how we can greatly improve our feelings of self-esteem and self-worth by getting more deeply in touch with our emotional selves and the creative "god-like" nature we all possess. As in Talking to Heaven, Van Praagh shares moving stories of after-death communication. You'll be touched and inspired by true accounts that take us through the grieving process, show is how to ease the pain and hurt of living in the material world, and attain new levels of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and personal freedom. In this unique book, James Van Praagh takes us on a journey of hope, healing, and spiritual growth and enlightenment. Filled with his unshakable faith in our ability to achieve anything we set out to accomplish, Reaching to Heaven offers us an evolving vision of ourselves — and a spiritual realm — that is within our grasp.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
When someone close to us dies, the idea that the soul goes on when the body dies brings comfort and hope. In his first book, Talking to Heaven, James Van Praagh wrote that he is certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that the soul does indeed go on after death. How can he be so sure? Van Praagh asserts that he can communicate with the next world, and in Talking to Heaven he recounted many of his exchanges with people who have passed over. These communications, he writes in his new book, Reaching to Heaven, have taught him a great deal about the nature of the immortal soul and its journey through life, death, and rebirth. He explores that journey and offers wisdom on how we can come closer to spiritual enlightenment during our lives through learning to recognize and communicate with the spark of the divine that resides in each of us.

Van Praagh begins Reaching to Heaven by describing the experience of death and the path the immortal soul takes after it departs the body as it has been explained to him by those who have experienced it. He follows this section by recounting sessions in which the living communicate through him with their departed loved ones, sharing the lessons these spirits can teach the living, from moving through the emotional blocks that hold us back in our everyday lives to living a more fulfilling life through conquering guilt and fear and embracing forgiveness and love. He concludes the book with meditations and lessons designed to help us achieve spiritual renewal and pass on these spiritual values to our children.

VanPraagh'suplifting message is that the soul within each of us holds the potential to allow us to live a life of healing, hope, and fulfillment, if we can just learn how to tap it.

James Van Praagh has changed people's loves, banished the fear of death...It is impossible not to be moved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525944812
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/15/1999
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh

James Van Praagh is the New York Times bestselling author of Talking to Heaven and Reaching to Heaven. Currently, Van Praagh is the co-creator and co-executive producer of the primetime series Ghost Whisperer, the #1 CBS drama starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Van Praagh is developing additional projects for Paramount and guest hosts the entertainment news shows Entertainment Tonight and The Insider.

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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, February 24th, welcomed James Van Praagh to discuss REACHING TO HEAVEN.

Moderator: Welcome, James Van Praagh. We are thrilled that you could join us tonight to discuss your new book, REACHING TO HEAVEN. How are you tonight?

James Van Praagh: I am just lovely!

Rachel from Albany, New York: How is REACHING TO HEAVEN different from TALKING TO HEAVEN? What inspired this second book?

James Van Praagh: The first book dealt with the subject of mediumship and the mechanisms of mediumship. It also provided evidence of life after death. This is what I set out to demonstrate in my first book, that each one of us is born with intuition, and if developed, it can be used to live life to its full potential. The second book went one step further for those who want to take the journey of truth and awareness. It was a compilation of many of the basic questions people all over the world asked me after the first book was released. Included in the second book are topics such as the process of death; where do we go when we pass over; what do the spirits really look like; what is the actual process of reincarnation; and what it is like to live our daily lives with the awareness that we are divine beings. I have also included several examples of readings I have done, which I feel are extremely important for people to see how emotional blocks such as guilt, forgiveness, expectations, fear, and love sometimes block our true light. The latter part of the book I call "The Awakening." In this section I have included exercises and meditations for making you aware of your spiritual potential in daily life. In closing I have included a chapter entitled "Guiding Our Children" because I feel it is important to place spiritual values with our children and be responsible adults.

Laura from California: How long after death do you need to wait to get in touch with someone?

James Van Praagh: It depends mostly upon the actual type of death. For instance, if someone passed out of the body fairly quickly and there was very little pain and suffering, it would be easier and quicker transitions. Therefore they would not have to rest and regain their lost energy, as perhaps another would who passed with a draining disease such as cancer and AIDS, which drains the energy life force. Remember that each soul's path and journey is individual. Each experience is different, per se.

Lori from PA: Mr. Van Praagh, I find your talent very fascinating. I have a friend who I feel is in tune with the afterlife. I have suggested that she sharpen her skills. She's interested in learning more. Any suggestions?

James Van Praagh: Yes. In the back of both of my books I have included a resource page. These are books which I personally have used in the understanding and development of my own intuition, that might be very helpful to her.

GB from Illinois: Does it become more difficult to contact someone as time passes?

James Van Praagh: Yes, because the magnetic ties of the earth are not in place. We could compare this to you going back to grade school and asking you to remember what your sixth-grade science class was like. You see, the longer you are away, the harder it is.

Valerie from Fairborn, Ohio: James, I do believe, as you do, that the soul goes on after the body dies. But I have some confusion about what happens to the souls of people who have murdered other people during their life here on earth. Do they have to pay some sort of "penalty" in the afterlife? Have you ever been in contact with the spirit of someone who has committed murder?

James Van Praagh: I have never been in contact with anyone who has committed murder. When we pass over, we move to a place known as the "asterworld." There is a very thin veil which separates our reality from the spirits. In the spirit world, there are many levels. When we pass over, we evaluate our past life. We not only see but also feel every thought, word, and deed. It causes great sorrow and great pain to those who have caused this to others and find they must relive their acts. As it is also with great joy and great delight for those who have lived a great life and whose conscience is clean. One of the hardest lessons I have found when people pass over is forgiveness, forgiving themselves. I have also found it difficult for the spirit not having the person on earth forgiving them. As you can see, we create our own hell or our own heaven.

Jeff from New York: To what extent do you think everyone is capable of developing their psychic abilities? Is it a worthwhile goal, or should we leave it to mediums like yourself to do all of the channeling?

James Van Praagh: Everyone is born with intuition. You must start looking at things with a different perspective. You are spirit, first and foremost. The physical body is just a covering of that expression. The spirit is all-knowing, all-feeling, all-sensing. Everyone is born with a certain level of sensitivity. This sensitivity and intuition can be developed and used on a daily basis. Not only will it help in your life dealing with people and situations but most importantly, it assists you in becoming aware of your own self, the knowing self. When you know "self," you are on the road to self-enlightenment and will not be chained down by earthly illusions and misconceptions which society throws our way. You will not live in fear but will live in love, and you will be able to distinguish between the two much more clearly. Since I have increased my sensitivity and awareness, my life has been fulfilled. I am no different than anyone else; I am just a little bit more sensitive and have developed my intuition. In the first book I describe how you can develop your intuition. God bless you on your path to self!

Diana from Ottawa, Canada: How can you tell who is contacting you? How do you know if it's a spirit, an angel, your own High Self, or just your subconscious babbling at you?

James Van Praagh: [laughs] One of the hardest parts in mediumship development is distinguishing the subtle difference of energy. Mediumship takes a long time to develop. Many, many years of self-discipline and control, and you begin to become aware of the different frequencies of vibration, distinguishing between a guide, a family member, friend, pet, et cetera. With further development, you are then able to distinguish the vibration of the mother's side of the family, father's side of the family, mother's vibration, father's vibration, et cetera.

Y. L. from Austin: Do you ever wish that you didn't have this gift of communicating with the dead?

James Van Praagh: Good question! With this so-called gift, there is definitely a responsibility. One has to have two feet firmly planted on this earth in order to do this work. It is difficult when people think I am their guru, which I am not. I just really want to be an example of how, if one takes the time and has the patience, they can harness the energy of spirit and help one another. Through the years of my work, I have been apart and I have become aware of such incredible healing and transformation, I can not describe. So actually, it is an honor to do spirits' work and to spread that light around the world.

Carolyn from Brooklyn, NY: Well, hello, James. I would like to ask you so many questions, but for starters, how do you deal with cynicism from those who don't believe you? I believe you 100 percent, but my friend does not and is very stereotypical. How do you deal with people like that?

James Van Praagh: Every person has a right to their opinion and has the right to express their opinion. Each one of us has a truth that resonates within us. Everyone has a right to express their truth, as they understand it. My work talks to people who want to listen. It resonates inside of them. There is nothing that I could do or say, nor is it my job, to open closed minds and hearts. We all have choices. Each individual most make the correct choice for themselves. There are many paths to heaven. I know my truth, and my path is one of healing and transformation. I can only be an example and only do what I am here to do. I find these so-called cynics and skeptics live in fear, afraid of things they feel they have no control over.

Lisa R. from Staten Island, NY: Hi, James. I believe all things happen for a reason. What's the difference between free will and predestination? I think we come to this earth choosing our parents and choosing our deaths to teach lessons. How do you feel about this?

James Van Praagh: In my first book, TALKING TO HEAVEN, I discuss a blueprint which we have set up before we reincarnate. On it are all of our experiences which we need to go through. We usually come back in soul groups, family, friends, et cetera and work out previous lessons. As I have said before, everyone has a choice. Free will is a choice we are given. It seems that the more one is aware spiritually, the easier it is for them to use their free will for the highest good.

Linda from Long Island: Mr. Van Praagh, every person I lost, I lost suddenly, and in my father's case, violently, in a car accident. I would like to have a chance to say goodbye and to tell them the things I never got a chance to say. How can I do this? I know you don't give readings anymore, but how do I find someone I can trust, who is not a fake?

James Van Praagh: People have misconceptions. They think you have to go to a medium in order to have the spirit hear them. This is not right; it is falsehood. Spirits hear out thoughts. They are aware of our mental process. Therefore you can send them thoughts and they will receive them. This is what prayers are. I speak about an exercise in my first book, TALKING TO HEAVEN, in which if there is a desire for a person to communicate with a deceased loved one, they can attempt to do this through dreams. At night when you are falling asleep, ask them to come through in your dream state. You will find that in a short period of time up to two months, you could very likely receive a visit from them. But remember, it is in the spirits' time, not your time. I only recommend that people go to psychics or mediums based on referrals.

Cathy from Connecticut: James, do you believe all areas of the occult are equally legitimate ways of exploring psychic phenomenon? Are reading tarot and tea leaves as legit as mediumship, for instance?

James Van Praagh: Tarot cards, crystal balls, and tea leaves are just instruments to tune in to energy. It helps to put one into a receptive state. One can acquire the same state through the process of meditation, but one must learn patience and trust in what they receive. There is no room for ego in this sort of work, either.

SD from IL: James, I had an experience with a channeler who allegedly released my grandfather to another realm because he committed suicide years ago. Have you had this experience before, and what are your comments on that experience? Thanks.

James Van Praagh: In the case of suicide, you do not need a channeler to release them. You can help them do that yourself through your loving thoughts and prayers. This desperate soul will feel your love and help reawakening their own spark. One needs to send them love and forgiveness so they can forgive themselves. Remember, in suicide the soul is not harmed.

Joe from New Jersey: Do you believe that people who suffer from mental illness and delusions are just experiencing chemical imbalances or possibly some aspect of the psychic world?

James Van Praagh: The only way I could answer that is, Both. It depends on each individual circumstance. I have seen both.

Diana from Ottawa, Canada: Do you believe people are reincarnated to further earthly lives, or do we just come once to earth and then go on in other realms?

James Van Praagh: I believe we come back to the physical environment many times.

Carolyn from NY: Hello, again. I would like to ask you, James Van Praagh, what is the most exciting or unusual experience you've ever had talking to a spirit, like a real unique moment that left a mark on your mind that you will never forget?

James Van Praagh: I can only answer this generally, because I have done thousands of readings and do not retain the information. There are some readings that do stand out, like the ones in my book. I will share one with you, which I still remember and is in REACHING TO HEAVEN. I was giving a lecture to 500 people. At the beginning of the lecture, I saw a little spirit girl walk straight down the aisle. She was about seven years old, long blonde hair, and pigtails and pink dress. I asked the girl what she was doing here; she said she wanted to speak to the lady with the black car. I asked the audience if anyone understood this. No one replied. I then described the girl jumping rope, and a lady stood up in the back and said, "I think that is for me. Two years ago, I was driving home from work; I turned the corner and a little blonde-haired girl was skipping rope and accidentally went in front of my car, and I killed her. I have not been able to live with myself since." I transmitted a message from the little girl to the lady. She said, "Lady, please be happy again. I forgive you."

Peter from Mississippi: Have you always been able to communicate with the dead? How did you find out you could?

James Van Praagh: I was a skeptic always. In my early 20s a friend invited me to see a medium from England. I went as a joke. When we had the meeting, he said, "The spirit people want to use you, James. You have the sensitivity for spirit communication." He said I would do this in two years time. I never believed him. After that I began meditating, just for my own benefit, not to perform anything mediumistic. I noticed that as the meditation progressed, I did become more aware and sensitive of things around me. One day I was talking to a friend, and I had this overwhelming sensation that the grandmother of this girl was standing next to her. I then received a thought about the state of Idaho. She said her grandmother had lived in Idaho. I then saw a white house with yellow shutters. She said that was what her house looked like in Idaho. There were other details that came through and astounded me and this young lady. I knew then that the prediction that this English medium made had come true.

Lauren from Westchester: How has your life changed since you have been able to talk to the dead? How has your spiritual faith changed? Love your books, Mr. Van Praagh.

James Van Praagh: My life has changed drastically in that now I have become very aware of every thought, word, and deed, or at least tried to. I have also become aware that each person is connected to one another. I see people so often whose light of God has been covered by earthly illusions, fears, and insecurities. I see they act out because of fear. I see their potential, and they don't see it themselves. Therefore I look at humankind probably very differently from most. I also must tell you that it is very difficult sometimes living up to other expectations. We can't do that. We must live up to our own and be true to ourselves.

Ty from Richmond, VA: Are all deaths the same? What about all the reports of going down a tunnel of white light, et cetera?

James Van Praagh: In my new book, I discuss this process extensively. I have found from my thousands of readings that each passing is unique, yet they all share a commonality. Throughout the death, there is a common thread that when a spirit leaves a physical vessel, immediately there is a sense of peace, joy, and lightness of weight. They have no pain -- they feel very, very alive. I would like to give you an analogy: When we walk on this earth, it is as if we are wearing sunglasses, and when we die, it is as if we take them off. Many have described their deceased family and friends coming to greet them. Others have described a beautiful light. Others described a sensation of being pulled through a tunnel.

J from New York City: James, who has influenced you the most in helping you become more aware of yourself and your own psychic abilities?

James Van Praagh: I have to say that my teacher was the British medium by the name of Brian Hurst. He was the first to recognize this gift and encourage me to do the work of spirit. I can also just throw in here that when one does the work of spirit, a service of humankind, to me there is no greater joy.

James from St. Clair: With the popularity of books like yours and EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT, why do you think there is such a growing interest in the subject of life after death?

James Van Praagh: I think that people are now turning inward and becoming aware of their own truth. They are not finding it in organized religions or themselves. They are starting to look outside. There are many books, tapes, and guides to help you open up to your spiritual self. People are looking for the truth, and it resides inside their hearts.

Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us this evening, James Van Praagh, for what has been a truly enlightening chat! Before you go, do you have any closing comments for the online Auditorium?

James Van Praagh: I would love for all of you to take a look at my web site,, and also invite each one of you to purchase REACHING TO HEAVEN and join me on a journey of enlightenment and awareness, which your soul has experienced for many lifetimes. This book will be a source of remembrance to you, for it will just remind you who you really are, and that is pure love. I wish you all God's light, love, and peace on your own path. Thank you for your support. God bless you, and goodnight.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2000


    James Van Praagh is an outstanding author! He opened my eyes in a way no other author has. He shows you heaven in his words like I have never seen. I am not afraid of death, anymore. I can't wait to see Heaven and greet my friends and family waiting for me.

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