We begin encountering karma as soon as we are born.
Our whole life is ceaseless action—tiresome, but unavoidable. When we retire from the waking state, we go to the dream state where we encounter dream activities. There, too, we cannot escape karma. Even when we sleep there is karma.
It was in San Francisco that Swami Vivekananda declared that souls should defy nature, that they should live and die game. This is the story of one of his brother monks, Swami Trigunatita, who did just that in our city, San Francisco. He lived here, earnestly serving the people of this city, and he died game in that service.
The self, as we ordinarily understand it, is fluctuating every moment. In spite of its changing nature, however, it is through the self alone we perceive and experience ourselves and the world. The self is the sense of ‘I-consciousness’ or individuality that we all have, though initially our identity is unclear. It is only after a long, sustained effort that we will be able to realize the true nature of this ‘I.’
Swami Vivekananda’s vision of Vedanta is his lasting legacy to contemporary spiritual thought. When his work in America needed an organizational structure, he chose to name it as Vedanta Society. We have an idea of what a “Society” is, but we need to ask ourselves what kind of “Vedanta” Swamiji had in mind when he used that word in connection with his Western work.