For 300 years after Buddha's death there were no Buddha images. The people's practice was the image of the Buddha, there was no need to externalize it. But in time, as the practice was lost, people began to place the Buddha outside of their own minds, back in time and space.
As the concept was externalized and images were made, great teachers started to reemphasize the other meaning of Buddha. There is a saying: "If you see the Buddha, kill him." Very shocking to people who offer incense and worship before an image. If you have a concept in the mind
of a Buddha outside yourself, kill it, let it go. . . . Gotama Buddha repeatedly reminded people that the experience of truth comes from one's own mind.