Recently, I visited the local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple one night after work for some ministerial training. Usually I dont have a reason to visit the temple in the evening, so this was nice opportunity to see the temple off-hours. I took this photo of the main altar or onaijin (お内陣):
This is our altar devoted to Amitabha Buddha: the Buddha of Infinite Light. Amitabha Buddha is the main object of devotion in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, and Pure Land Buddhism in general.1
Below Amitabha Buddha are four scrolls, which represent the Pure Land Sutras, the particular Buddhist texts most fundamental to our school. The Immeasurable Life Sutra is so long that it requires two scrolls.
It is hard to see in this photo, but to the back and right, behind the hanging light, is a smaller altar devoted to Shinran the founder of our tradition. On the other side, behind the other hanging light, is an altar for Rennyo who was Shinran’s descendant and the “restorer” of Jodo Shinshu.
The temple and its altar have been around for over 100 years, and I think they do a nice job expressing Pure Land Buddhist teachings in a non-verbal way.
1 There are a lot of ways to interpret who, or what, Amitabha Buddha is. The founder of Jodo Shinshu, Shinran, taught that Amitabha was the Dharma (the teachings of Buddhism) expressed as compassion.