I think I am a very strange person, I never doubt stories about Buddhas or their arahant disciples/upasakas-upasikas. I love to read suttas/dhammapada stories/jatakas/itivuttakas etc. with ultimate belief!! And when I read Milindapanha my love/saddha overwhelm me million times more...!! I love Buddhas more today than yesterday..but I love Buddhas less today..less than I will tomorrow.
The Questions Of King Milinda
[Translated ted by T.W.Rhys Davids]
GIFTS TO THE BUDDHA.King
: 'Venerable Nâgasena, it has been said by the Blessed One:
"Gifts chaunted for in sacred hymns
Are gifts I must not take.
All those who see into the Truth
Do this their practice make.
The Buddhas all refused to chaunt for wage;
This was their conduct still
Whene'er the Truth prevailed
Through every age 1."
'But on the other hand the Blessed One, when preaching the Truth, or talking of it, was in the habit of beginning with the so-called "preliminary discourse," in which giving has the first place, and goodness only the second 2. So that when gods and men heard this discourse of the Blessed One, the lord of the whole world, they prepared and gave gifts, and the disciples partook of the alms thus brought about. Now if, Nâgasena, it be true what the Blessed One said, that he accepted no gifts earned by the chaunting of sacred words, then it was wrong that the Blessed One put giving thus
into the foreground. But if he did rightly in so emphasizing the giving of gifts, then it is not true that he accepted no gifts earned by the utterance of sacred words. And why so? Because if any one worthy of offerings should praise to the laity the good results to them of the bestowal of alms, they, hearing that discourse, and pleased with it, will proceed to give alms again and again. And then, whosoever enjoy that gift, they are really enjoying that which has been earned by the utterance of sacred words. This too is a double-edged problem, now put to you, which you have to solve.'Nagasena
: 'The stanza you quote, O king, was spoken by the Blessed One. And yet he used to put the giving of alms into the forefront of his discourse. But this is the custom of all the Tathâgatas--first by discourse on almsgiving to make the hearts of hearers inclined towards it, and then afterwards to urge them to righteousness. This is as when men, O king, give first of all to young children things to play with-- such as toy ploughs 1, tip-cat sticks 2, toy wind-mills 3, measures made of leaves 4, toy carts,
and bows and arrows--and afterwards appoint to each his separate task. Or it is as when a physician first causes his patients to drink oil for four or five days in order to strengthen them, and to soften their bodies; and then afterwards administers a purge. The supporters of the faith, O king, the lordly givers, have their hearts thus softened, made tender, affected. Thereby do they cross over to the further shore of the ocean of transmigration by the aid of the boat of their gifts, by the support of the causeway of their gifts. And (the Buddha), by this (method in his teaching), is not guilty of "intimation 1."'King
: 'Venerable Nâgasena, when you say "intimation" what are these intimations?'Nagasena
:'There are two sorts, O king, of intimation--bodily and verbal. And there is one bodily
intimation which is wrong, and one that is not; and there is one verbal intimation which is wrong, and one that is not. Which is the bodily intimation which is wrong? Suppose any member of the Order, in going his rounds for alms, should, when choosing a spot to stand on, stand where there is no room 2, that is a bodily intimation which is wrong. The true members of the Order will not accept any alms so asked for, and the individual who thus acts is despised, looked down upon, not respected, held blameworthy, disregarded, not well thought of, in the religion of the Noble Ones; he is reckoned as
one of those who have broken their (vows as to) means of livelihood. And again, O king, suppose any member of the Order, in going his round for alms, should stand where there is no room, and stretch out his neck like a peacock on the gaze, in the hope: "Thus will the folk see me"--that too is a bodily intimation which is wrong. True brethren will not accept an alms so asked for, and he who thus acts is regarded like the last. And again, O king, suppose any member of the Order should make a sign with his jaw, or with his eyebrow, or with his finger-- that too is a bodily intimation which is wrong. True brethren will not accept an alms so asked for, and he who thus acts is regarded the same way.
'And which is the bodily intimation which is not wrong? If a brother, on going his round for alms, be self-possessed, tranquil, conscious of his acts; if he stand, wherever he may go, in the kind of spot that is lawful; if he stand still where there are people desirous to give, and where they are not so desirous, if he pass on 1 ;--that is a bodily intimation which is not wrong. Of an alms so stood for the true members of the Order will partake; and the individual who thus asks is, in the religion of the Noble Ones, praised, thought highly of, esteemed, and reckoned among those whose behaviour is without guile, whose mode of livelihood is pure. For thus has it been said by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:
"The truly wise beg not, for Arahats scorn to beg.
The good stand for their alms, thus only do they beg 1."
'Which is the verbal intimation which is wrong? In case, O king, a brother intimate his wish for a number of things, requisites of a member of the Order--robes and bowls and bedding and medicine for the sick--that is a verbal intimation which is wrong. Things so asked for the true members of the Order (Ariyâ) will not accept; and in the religion of the Noble Ones the individual who acts thus is despised, looked down upon, not respected, held blameworthy, disregarded, not well thought of--reckoned rather as one who has broken his (vows as to) means of livelihood. And again, O king, in case a brother should, in the hearing of others, speak thus: "I am in want of such and such a thing;" and in consequence of that saying being heard by the others he should then get that thing--that too is a verbal intimation which is wrong. True members of the Order will not use a thing so obtained, and he who acts thus is regarded like the last. And again, O king, in case a brother, dilating in his talk 2, give the people about him to understand: "Thus and thus should gifts be given to the Bhikkhus,"
and in case they, on hearing that saying, should bring forth from their store anything so referred to--that too is a verbal intimation which is wrong. True members of the Order will not use a thing so obtained, and he who acts thus is regarded like the last.  For when Sâriputta, the Elder, O king, being ill in the night-time, after the sun had set, and being questioned by Moggallâna, the Elder, as to what medicine would do him good, broke silence; and through that breach of silence obtained the medicine--did not Sâriputta then, saying to himself: "This medicine has come through breach of silence; let not my (adherence to the rules regarding) livelihood be broken," reject that medicine, and use it not 1? So that too is a verbal intimation which is wrong. True members of the Order will not use a thing so obtained, and he who acts thus is regarded like the last.
'And what is the verbal intimation which is right? Suppose a brother, O king, when there is necessity for it, should intimate among families either related to him, or which had invited him to spend the season of Was with him 2, that he is in want of medicines--this is a verbal intimation which is not wrong. True members of the Order will partake of things so asked for; and the individual who acts thus is, in the religion of the Noble Ones, praised, thought highly of, esteemed, reckoned among those whose mode of livelihood is pure,
approved of the Tathâgatas, the Arahats, the Supreme Buddhas. And the alms that the Tathâgata, O king, refused to accept of Kasî-Bhâradvâga, the Brahman 1, that was presented for the sake of testing him with an intricate puzzle which he would have to unwind 2, for the sake of pulling him away, of convicting him of error, of making him acknowledge himself in the wrong. Therefore was it that the Tathâgata refused that alms, and would not partake thereof.'King
: 'Nâgasena, was it always, whenever the Tathâgata was eating, that the gods infused the Sap of Life from heaven into the contents of his bowl, or was it only into those two dishes--the tender boar's flesh, and the rice porridge boiled in milk--that they infused it 3?Nagasena
: 'Whenever he was eating, O king, and into each morsel of food as he picked it up--just as the royal cook takes the sauce and pours it over each morsel in the dish while the king is partaking of it  And so at Verañgâ, when the Tathâgata was eating the cakes 5 made of dried barley, the gods moistened each one with the Sap of Life, as they placed it near him 1. And thus was the body of the Tathâgata fully refreshed.'King
: 'Great indeed was the good fortune, Nâgasena, of those gods that they were ever and always so zealous in their care for the body of the Tathâgata! Very good, Nâgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.'