The Relationship Between Lao Tzu And Marcus Aurelius

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Philosophy is a universal form of thinking that has persisted throughout time. It is an endless endeavor at trying to understand the universe and our place in it. Lao Tzu is a chinese philosopher who founded Taoism which is defined as a way of life. He wrote his ideas in a book called Tao Te Ching that is still known around the world today. Marcus Aurelius is a Roman emperor who wrote Meditations, a book that has details about Marcus Aurelius’ thoughts and stoicism in general. While these two philosophers may have been born in different eras and different parts of the world, they have some very similar thoughts about the right way to live your life. More specifically, both of these philosophers believed in the idea of inaction, or wu wei according …show more content…
Lao Tzu brought up several teachings about how a ruler should be in harmony with Tao or nature, but one of the most relevant teachings is in chapter 60 of Tao Te Ching when he compares ruling a great nation to frying small fish. Rather than saying that a ruler should just follow Tao, he explains how a good ruler or saint, “has harmonized with the spiritual power and hence will cause no harm. Since they both do not harm each other, Therefore they will harmonize with the true virtue to embrace the Oneness, Tao,” (Tao Te Ching Chapter 60). Lao Tzu’s interpretation of a good ruler is somebody who is in harmony with the spirit or soul and embraces Tao. In order to reach this harmony a ruler must not act with ill intent. Therefore, Lao Tzu’s concept of wu wei or inaction is present in the ideal ruler. Knowing when to stop and allowing things to occur naturally through the spirit is an important quality that good rulers must acknowledge and practice. Marcus Aurelius has a similar concept in book 3 of Meditations, when he writes about the importance of the mind and soul. Not only are the mind and soul more permanent than other worldly objects, they also connect to the rest of the world and the whole, or Tao according to Lao Tzu. Cultivating the mind and soul is what all people should strive to do according to Marcus Aurelius and to do so means to accept or harmonize with the mind and soul. Only then will you be able to walk on the right path for life. To raise the mind into a proper state worthy of a good ruler, you must know your own limits and understand when it is time to act and when it is time to pull back. Coming into harmony and accepting the mind requires a type of surrender or inaction, that allows the gods and nature to perform their miracles. Even Marcus Aurelius admits that we do not understand the higher beings’ methods, but that we still must have

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