Sunday, November 08, 2009



I have always enjoyed James Van Praagh’s books, but his new one, Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us About Life (Harper One, 2009) is one of his best. As always, readers will find Van Praagh’s works easy to read while they are also highly insightful and interesting. He combines many examples of stories from the other side as they develop in various seminars or appearances that he makes each year with his own commentary about what we all can learn from the other side.

In this particular book, Van Praagh provides examples of many usual human problems and lessons for learning as seen from those who have crossed over. Once there, individuals seem to be able to see these problems much more clearly and they are anxious to share their insights with their loved ones. As Van Praagh notes, “When people shed their physical bodies at death, their spiritual selves see life from a whole new perspective. It’s as if they had Lasik surgery. They can finally take off their glasses and see everything more clearly. Their
communications can help us all better understand guilt, regrets, love versus fear, the blame game, forgiveness, karma, and many other human issues.

What I found most helpful in this delightful book are the many “words of wisdom” that Van Praagh intersperses throughout his stories and commentary. Without doubt, every reader should be able to find inspiration in some, or all, of these insights. Rather than discussing some of the stories and what they teach, I have decided to just list many of my favorite “words of wisdom” from this book as a reference for anyone who might find some of them useful.

Words of Wisdom from James Van Praagh (with page references)

The only power we have is in the “now,” and our now affects our future. (3)

When a tragedy occurs, we become angry and guilt-ridden instead of seeing the opportunity to create good from it. (3)

It’s all about being responsible for your thoughts and actions. (3)

We can stop the blame game by accepting responsibility, correcting mistakes, and turning grief into accomplishments. (3)

Our regrets may serve as wonderful opportunities from which we can learn, or they may become slayers of our self-esteem and hold us back from future opportunities. (27)

Most regrets have to do with family ties. (28)

Almost all, on both sides of the veil, regretted lost moments of family togetherness because of their narrow-mindedness and stubbornness. (29)

It is vital for everyone to understand the exact ramifications of carrying regrets from this life into the next. We must free ourselves of this emotional roadblock and heal here. (33)

[Those on the other side] beg those of us on earth for forgiveness and compassion, so that they can let go of their emotional baggage and move on to the next stage in their evolution. (33)

When adults have no concept of right and wrong because they were not taught it by their parents, the end results are nothing less than devastating. (38)

Regrets can fester inside us, causing a lifetime of misunderstanding and judgment, and keep us in a constant state of stress and grief. (42)

Even the most grievous offenses can be forgiven. (42)

The opposite of love is fear. (45)

Some have to wait until death in order to fully understand the negative impact of not only their lives, but also their beliefs on another’s growth. (50)

Fear blocks any recognition of our true selves. (54)

The truth is that life on earth is a temporary illusion. (55)

As we are made in the likeness of God, and God is Love, then we must strive to express our love in everything we do, say, and are. (59)

It’s much easier to blame than to make an attempt to understand others through love and forgiveness. (63)

We are on this earth to learn many lessons, but the most important lesson is to love and accept ourselves for who we are. (68)

I honestly believe that many societal problems come from . . . victim mentality. In many ways, depression, anger, insecurity, distrust, and violence stem from this type of thinking. (69)

When we think with a them-against-me mentality, we narrow our understanding of the world’s diversity. (69)

Until we rise up and take responsibility for our thoughts, we will be stuck in this blame-game mentality. (73)
Ultimately, it is your thoughts that color the atmosphere around you. No one can MAKE you feel anything. You have to be willing to feel a certain way. (74)

Forgiveness plays an important role in letting go of blame and victimization. (80)

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. (81)

By choosing to forgive, we do not minimize the responsibility of the offender or justify the wrong. Rather, we free ourselves of our own negative thoughts. (81)

[With friends and family] we set ourselves up for hurt. We expect them to be a certain way and don’t like it when they are themselves and not like we expect. (82)

If the person does not want to change, then we must accept that fact and move on. (82)

When we start to look at life from a spiritual perspective, we realize that we have been put together with others in certain circumstances we have chosen to experience before we were born into this incarnation.

We will be present [or not] at a loved one’s passing if we are meant to be there [or not]. (92)

When we understand the full scope of the concept of karma, we realize that each of us is solely responsible for our life, including everything that we create in thought, word, and deed. (99)

Karma is neutral; it is merely a tool for learning and having experiences. (99)

If you are on the path you are meant to be on, everything falls into place; the Universe is telling you that. If you are not on your right path, you will experience roadblocks all along the way, and this is also the Universe telling you to stop, look, and ask if this is where you are supposed to be.” (102)

The situations and people in our life that cause us the most trouble are also our greatest teachers. (103)

Those souls we call our family (including our extended family and close friends) have spent many lifetimes with us on this earth learning various lessons. (106)

People are also here to learn and work out karmic obligations by being part of a specific racial, ethnic, religious, or minority group. (107)

Bumper sticker: “How you treat me is your karma. How I react is mine.” (115)

[Life’s] obstacles are opportunities to learn more about ourselves and the world in which we live. (120)

Nothing is so bad that we cannot grow from it, but we need a good attitude. (120)

[Laughter] actually changes our brain chemistry, and it does so without any artificial stimulants or drugs. (125)

The Universe gives us EXACTLY what we think and expect about money. (127)

Stop thinking you need things to be happy. (128)

One of the hardest things to learn is that you cannot control other people’s actions or motivations. (146)

You must think positively in every aspect of your life in order to attract positive things to you. (149)

See how many times you catch yourself with a negative thought and replace it with a positive one. (149)

Don’t try to control how the Universe will bring your goals to you. Just let go and let God, knowing all shall be given to you in divine, right time. (150)

Admitting you are wrong and apologizing go a long way in your development as a spiritual human being. (153)

It is difficult to have a sense of who we are when we are living out our parents’, spouse’s, church’s, and the media’s conscious and unconscious projections. (159)

The only thing we have control over is the present. (159)

Spirits realize that God is not a person in a different geographic location, but an omnipresent energy, a consciousness that permeates everything and everyone. (160)

We are all one on a living planet, and only our egos, fears, and beliefs separate us. (178)

Don’t take life so seriously. It’s just a game. (198)

It doesn’t matter what role you play [in life], whether it is a servant or head of state; it is what you do with your role that matters. (198)

Do the most with what you are given. (198)

We change our reality by changing what is within us. (198)

We know that our life’s purpose is to contribute our talents and abilities to make the Universe whole and complete. (200)

When you meditate, do so without any expectations whatsoever. (203)

The Universe always gives you exactly what you persistently think, so pay close attention to your thoughts. (205)

Doing the right thing cannot be judged solely by the outcome or by the opinions of others. (214)

To attract positive, joyful, and prosperous situations to you, you must be that way yourself. (220)

You have chosen to come back at this time and place to achieve greatness in life and peace in your soul. (224)

Readers who enjoy James Van Praagh’s works can also visit him on line at