Question: Is Yoga philosophy something similar to Unity, where one mission or one congregation or a series of ministers or self-abnegated servants of Christ are spreading the seed to teach people how to come nearer to, and enter into, pure Christianity?Sri Chinmoy: If you ask whether Yoga is similar to Unity, the group that is so famous and well established, it is not actually so. Yoga, according to the strict concept, is something special. We have various kinds of Yoga, mainly the Yoga of Action, the Yoga of Love and Devotion and the Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom. All these paths lead to the same goal. Yoga ultimately leads us to God-realisation and to Self-realisation. In India, the practitioner, the aspirant who wants to realise God takes the guidance of a spiritual Master. A teacher is required in order to help the aspirant in his self-discipline in his inner life and spiritual life.
However, according to my own understanding, Unity is something quite different. I have been to a few Unity groups. Last year I went to Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. There are large gatherings of at least five hundred people at the Unity of Jamaica. I spoke there. Unfortunately, the minister had not actually achieved the consciousness of a spiritual teacher, not to speak of a realised person. He teaches, he give sermons and the members of Unity try to utilise the truth of the sermon according to their capacity and receptivity. Farther than that, that particular minister could not go. He did not have the capacity to enter into the individual aspirant or seeker in order to help him in his self-discovery. Whereas when one practises Yoga, in India or somewhere else, one is supposed to have a teacher who knows the spiritual life thoroughly. We need a teacher in every walk of life. In order to learn singing, we need a teacher. In order to play the piano, we need a teacher. Similarly, in order to learn the inner discipline and make progress in our inner life, we likewise require a qualified teacher. And Yoga means “union with God”. This union can be effected through the constant guidance and help of a spiritual teacher.
In Unity, however, whether they care for union with God or not, they lack that kind of spiritual Master who has a small (or large) group of his own, where he can pay attention to each individual and see where each one actually stands in his progress toward God-realisation.
So here is the vital difference between Unity and Yoga. If you take Unity as a spiritual discipline, inner discipline, I must say that you are right, it is true, for we are all moving toward the same goal; but Yoga is something absolutely deeper. It deals with all kinds of spiritual problems, inner and outer, and Yoga tells us that man is nothing short of the veiled God.
I wanted to avoid this question because I enter into a controversy when I say that Unity and Yoga are not one. Unity, as far as the teachings and the movement is concerned, is very high and true. But when we use the term “unity” in deeper sense of the term, Yoga is that union or unity with God.