HONOLULU—Right up there with the meaning of life is also the question what happens after death. If there is an afterlife, can those who have departed this one still be in contact with us? John Edward believes not only does it happen, it happens through him.
Edward is a practicing medium, a non-practicing Catholic, author of six books and was the centerpiece of his talk shows, Crossing Over and later, Cross Country. In Hawaii this week following an Australian tour, he’ll return to Honolulu in early November for a workshop at the Neal Blaisdell Center.
While many of us may use “psychic” and “medium” interchangeably, “there is a synergistic relationship between the two words,” according to Edward. “There is a huge difference. A medium has to be psychic first then a conduit from the physical to nonphysical world.”
One common element to both words is they often elicit skepticism—and Edward approves: “I like people to be skeptical. I want people to think, have a dialog.” He also says he appreciates the value of science in replicating and extending known data.
At 30, Edward launched Crossing Over and the show drew accusations of trickery and content manipulation to alter the meaning and veracity of his information. Edward vehemently refutes any editing other than to make the show fit its timeslot or to reduce repetitive questions and answers given during the long hours of taping the live sessions.
“I was known to be the difficult, temperamental talent,” Edward says. “I policed the content. I had one edict and that was I had to look better live than on TV.”
Inaccuracies were left in the final cuts and Edwards says he has no problem being wrong. In a session, the sensation he experiences mimics having a daydream. He hears his “own mind’s voice and perceives energetic sign language. The crew used to call it ‘John goes to the movies’.”
Admittedly, that can sometimes lead to problems in reception. “Those who want to communicate are 100 percent certain of their intent to come through,” but as with sending an email, intent can sometimes be misread. Interference can also happen with negative, cynical people for whom any attempt at explanation is futile. Of those who do get a message, Edward says, “Sometimes it’s about what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. This isn’t therapy.”
What he says is “absolutely a fallacy” is the charge by paranormal-buster and entertainer, James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, that Edward uses either cold or warm reading techniques to dupe subjects. Cold reading is verbal phishing to get a hit, teasing out details with the subject’s willing or unwitting cooperation and quick reframing of “wrong” information when necessary. Warm reading uses specific information gleaned through spying or research prior to meeting.
Edward has undergone testing with Dr. Gary Schwartz, a Harvard-trained professor in the departments of medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona. Criticism of methodology and exploitation has trailed Schwartz’s Veritas Project; he also tested Allison DuBois on whose life the TV series Medium is based and who later distanced herself from Schwartz. Some of Edward’s testing became an HBO special.
While the naysaying persists, Edward is adamant that he is done trying to convince anyone of the truth of what he does. “As soon as you go to a place where you’re defending something, you’re admitting there’s something to be defended. No matter what you come up with, they’re never going to give. I’m not that ambitious.”
He also gets a little sensitive about his own role as a TV personality: he is more insulted by remarks that someone has been entertained by his show than by charges of chicanery: “Entertained by dead people? C’mon.”
Neither is he enthused by the swelling numbers of reality and paranormal-obsessed TV shows, films, and books. Although he believes most are not detrimental to wellbeing, he takes issue with the fear-based ghostbuster shows. “Turn the lights on and they don’t have a show,” Edward says. Nor is he a fan of media glorifying children with psychic abilities because everyone has them, even if they don’t use them. “Kids should feel special because their parents love them.”
On this side or whatever comes next, love is the big message. “I don’t want to be all airy-fairy about it, but it’s all about love,” Edward explains. “Be as loving as you can. Communicate, appreciate, and validate people while they’re here.” Terminal patients included: treat them with respect for the process of dying, he says. Drop the pretense that all is going to be fine, that they will get better; it’s confusing when at the soul level, they know just the opposite.
That’s true for most of us in many situations when we’re being told less than the truth. Mediums and psychics don’t have the market cornered in gut knowledge or the desire to deselect falsehood and satisfy the thirst for loving acceptance by being loving to others, even if sometimes it’s not reciprocated.
Whether you do or don’t believe in an afterlife or in those who can contact its residents, you can choose to pass on the big message in big and small ways. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are soliciting billionaire friends to join them in giving away at least half of their fortunes to charity … and, well, maybe you can’t do that. You can, as the late Dr. Paul Pearsall often said, ask yourself if you’re a joy to be with. You won’t need any otherworldly input for that one and you just might figure out the meaning of life.
The interview with John Edward can be heard in its entirety on the Town Square archive at www.hawaiipubicradio.org.