I think that the being of Buddha is very present within our own thoughts and our emotions. We all have a different representation, of course, but there's something in common between them. Buddha is often pictured in what they call Buddha posture in a statue or then sitting under the tree, and there's that wonderful statue of the Bodhisattva - that is before the illumination - in the museum of Lahore, where Buddha is ... you see his ribs and the bones of his shoulders and the tremendous will-power of going through the day and night meditating, trying to see what is behind the whole phenomenon of the universe. And then of course there's the vision that we have of Buddha walking amongst his disciples, surrounded by a zone of silence, illuminated, full of light and also his heart full of compassion. He left his palace in order to try to find a solution to the sufferings of human beings. So, those are the pictures that we can make of Buddha.
Now we get into the attunement of Buddha beyond the Bodhisattva or Prince Siddharta, because the word Tathagata means beyond his individual personality, let´s say, the essence of his being, which is also to be found in each one of us, where there's a great nobility and peacefulness, serenity - a serenity that comes from looking at the world with detachment and without an ego. And the consequence is the light of intelligence. And at the same time compassion for the sufferings of beings, realizing that that suffering is to a large extent due to ignorance of the meaningfulness of life. He's trying to awaken people, and so the note is awakening.
Can you imagine, for instance, as I have done, meditating under the Bodhi tree in India all night long? Almost immediately one is swept by the sensation of a tremendous expanse of space that continues to move outward in an ever-widening immensity. Surrounded by this zone of silence, one is protected from the distractions of the immediate environment. There is a feeling of sitting quietly in a temple. The temple in which one is sitting is without walls, encircled by an invisible boundary that divides the sacred from the profane. This boundary is created by the Buddha's innate sense of detachment: like a peaceful moat dividing the castle from the outside world, the result of this detachment is an abiding sense of serenity and peace undisturbed by the incessant demands of the world. From this emotionally detached perspective of Buddha's consciousness, we feel raised beyond existence itself, and are granted a marvelous overview of life on earth. Like a mythic bird, we can fly far beyond the planet, the solar system, the galaxy, and even beyond into the farthest reaches of the Universe. This symbolic flight of the soul, however, has nothing to do with actual space, but represents further dimensions of reality - a pitch of consciousness that continually ascends to ever higher and higher notes of awareness. Indeed, when the mind is liberated from illusory desires and transient concerns, consciousness is set free. This is what Buddha meant when he illustrated consciousness with a flame - if there is no log to burn, the flames eventually die down. In the same way, our ego-consciousness depends upon an object to sustain its attachments. Deprived of an object, it is released from the limitations of earthly existence into boundaryless, transcendent intelligence, or what the Buddha called "beyond consciousness, beyond existence and non-existence".