The Buddha represents a complete enlightenment within a person's life. People will often gaze at a Buddha statue to have a clear view of what their path holds and how to better enlighten themselves.
In Eastern culture and in the Buddhist religion groups, the Buddha is not treated as an idol and is not a form of worship for the people who believe in it. It is not an idol, but is rather the likeness of a human who was extremely enlightened. The Buddha is not deified in any type of tradition including ones that are considered to be Buddhist in nature. The Buddha is more of an inspiration point for a higher level of enlightenment.
Like the Mother Mary in Catholic culture or the Star of David in Jewish cultures, the Buddha is simply meant for encouragement of the journey. The human that the Buddha statues represent was considered to be one of the most enlightened individuals in the culture and was esteemed as one of the best at the journey they were on. People who are struggling with their daily journey or need inspiration can look upon the Buddha. People generally do not talk to the Buddha statues and only gaze upon them for encouragement.