Religion and Spirituality: Yuval Noah Hariri

In his latest book Homo Deus Yuval Noah Harari, one of my favourite scholars of all time, makes an interesting distinction on the difference between spirituality and religion. He writes:

“Religion gives us a complete description of the world, and offers us a well-defined contract with predetermined goals. ‘God exists. He told us to behave in certain ways. If you obey God, you’ll be admitted to heaven. If you disobey Him, you’ll burn in hell.’ The very clarity of this deal allows society to define common norms and values that regulate human behaviour.

Spiritual journeys are nothing like that. They usually take people in mysterious ways towards unknown destinations. The quest usually begins with some big question, such as who am I? What is the meaning of life? What is good? Whereas many people just accept the readymade answers provided by the powers that be, spiritual seekers are not so easily satisfied. They are determined to follow the big questions wherever it leads, and not just to places you know well or wish to visit… such journeys are fundamentally different from religions because religions seek to cement world order whereas spirituality seeks to escape it.”

9 thoughts on “Religion and Spirituality: Yuval Noah Hariri

  1. What a lovely article.

    You are so right, spirituality is an awakening and an acceptance of truth, whatever it may be.

    Whereas religion is the acceptance of fixed ideology and rules, then an endeavor of making those neatly circular rules fit into odd shaped gaps.

    Personal truth can never be a cookie cutter experience, no matter how convenient it appears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My sentiments exactly! I also loved the work on your blog about taking personal responsibility of the three towers: mental, physical and spiritual.

      It’s a concept I’ve been thinking more and more about lately…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post! My beef is always with those who are so reluctant to explore, to the point of forbidding any and all question. I’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that whatever higher power they believe in would actually welcome any and all questions. But, people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! They just want a one size fits all answer so that they know everything is ok… but personally I wouldn’t give up the journey of self-discovery for anything. And by the sounds of things neither would you šŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How would that even work, stopping that journey? That’s what these people don’t notice / know, that like it or not just by being born, you already agreed to go on that journey. Too many close their eyes, instead of looking out the window though.

        Personally, I believe in reincarnation, so this happens many times in my understanding. But since every life is unique, you do discover something about yourself every time. Same way a good actor will look at the character he or she portrays. Many characters, each deserves the same respect.


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