You might compare the hermit monk to the research scientist. Society supports the research scientist as he sits in his laboratory conducting experiments because it hopes that he will eventually discover or invent something that will be for the general good. Likewise the Buddhist community supports the meditating monk (and his needs are very meagre) because it hopes that he will attain wisdom and insights that will be for the general good. But even before this happens or even if it doesn’t, the meditating monk can still benefit others. In some modern societies it is ‘The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous’, with its extravagance, its conspicuous consumption and its self-indulgence which is held up as the ideal to follow, or at least to envy. The example that the meditating monk sets reminds us that one doesn’t have to be rich to be content. It shows us that the gentle and simple lifestyle has its advantages too.