King’s Consultant vs. the Monk

Two childhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  The first became a consultant to the king, receiving riches and power. The second became a humble monk, living simply.

Years later they met again.  

Catching up, the consultant (decked out in expensive clothes) took pity on the thin, shabby monk.  Hoping to help, he says:

“If you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

The monk replied:

“If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.” 

Credit to jlcollins for the inspiration 


Life is full of choices.  

In today’s world the king may be the fancy job that comes with 60+ hour work weeks but allows you to travel, live large, eat out, AND still save money.   The modern monk is a minimalist, with a small house and garden. No vacations, but able to get by.

Everyone falls somewhere on the scale between consultant and monk – few are one or the other.  

The key is to recognize where you currently are in your lifestyle, and where you want to be.   If you were raised to be the consultant, chasing ever bigger dreams and thresholds, the inner voice of a mostly-monk persona may be muffled from years of ignoring desires.

I have found that retirement dreams – assuming money is no object – are a good indicator of where you fall on that scale.   Are you taking cruises and jetsetting all over the world? Are you the master gardener who putters around the yard and has close friends nearby?  

Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

One of the most stressful times in my life was when I had that fancy job – the one that meant no monetary compromises.  You see, my retirement dream is to putter around the garden and enjoy a slower pace of life. The fast-paced, 24/7 “on” nature of the job wasn’t aligned with my heart.  Even double the salary wouldn’t have been worth it.

You don’t need to hit the breaking point, or have quite as drastic an experience, before realizing that change is necessary.  

Take stock of your life – what aspects do you live like the consultant and what aspects do you live like the monk?  Is that where you want it to be? If not, take steps to change the proportion to something more in line with your values.  

Photo by Bailey Starner on Unsplash

And hey, that may mean budgeting a bit more money for vacations.  My husband would certainly applaud that choice. If you want to live quietly with less dependence on “the man” (the king is less identifiable these days), try a simple living challenge for a month – homemade meals, plastic-less, local support, shopping ban (one at a time, these are just some ideas to get started.  The internet is your oyster!).

Are you a consultant or a monk?