Got the unexpected opportunity to listen to the MP3 of the chat: a fascinating weave of notions, affects and realizations. Here: a couple of immediate, rather random thoughts on things I heard.
Death, for me (since everyone more or less stated their starting point) is a transition, a “mere” state-change. For the most part (remember the significant segment of the Café devoted to dreamscapes and inner realities), we are organisms who are born, mature, and eventually die. (Michael highlighted this specifically.) In other words, Life enters that organism at some point and at some point that organism is no longer capable of hosting Life. Every organism, at any rate, shares that process. In this sense, death cannot be “final” … only the vehicle for the experience-accumulation process has clearly defined starting and stopping points.
Having been associated with a couple of organizations which, in many regards, were inheritors of or claimed to have their roots in “Gnostic” (or what is often held to be such) traditions, the general “teaching” there was that we are spiritual beings (if not simply spirits) caught/entrapped/imprisoned (choose your metaphor) in physical bodies: a birth in this physical world meant a death in the spiritual one; a death in this physical world meant a (re)birth in the spiritual world. The dreamscapes of which you spoke parallel and overlap with those worlds. It’s all not so cut and dried as our matterhead friends would like to believe. I personally believe that this much more multilayered and interpenetrated than most spiritually inclined individuals would like to think.
Ba’al (BOL, Beth-Ayin-Lamed) was, as John, noted the name of a Canaanite deity. The word in Biblical hebrew also means simply “owner, master, lord”, but also “husband”. The “classic” Ba’al story is probably the encounter of the prophet Elijah with the prophets (or priests) of Ba’al, described in 1 Kings 18. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for the latter. (In this connection, it is worth noting that at that time – that is, at the time of the story – all deities were local deities; that is, they were inseparably linked to territories and people. What is more, there is nothing in the Tanakh (what most of us call “the Old Testament”) that denies reality to these entities, if you will. They may not have been of this particular plane of existence, but they were every bit as real as the people who worshiped them. I don’t see any reason to think that they ceased to be simply because no one worshiped them anymore.) Also, the word BOL (Ba’al), according to the Letter-Kabbalists, means as much as “the container of the vision of all possibilities set into directed motion”. Just a thought.
While I agree that the average Joe or Jane on the street more often than not has difficulty coming to terms with “death”, there are nevertheless huge differences from one culture to the next. Americans – as the Café showed – seem to have a lot of problems with it for a wide range of reasons, not the least of which is the significance of the change involved and the “unknowability” that it represents, hence it is something to fear. This fear, I must say, is not as prevalent here in Germany, where it is most often viewed simply as a part of life, period. Everybody’s-gotta-go-sometime seems to be the general motto, so why not make the best of the time you’ve got? The Scandinavians – as Kripal points out in The Flip – live this even more fully.
What also struck me about the Café was the number of times “well, that could be the topic of another Café” (or some variation on that theme) was spoken. If anyone takes the time to review the recording again, I would suggest they take notes and make a list and pass it on to Doug. There is a lot of food for future thought therein.