A Buddhist monastery’s front entrance is literally called “mountain gate” in Chinese, referring to the traditional mountain setting of monasteries. The main gate is constructed in a style traditional to Chinese Buddhist temples: a large central opening flanked by two smaller openings. Nuns and monks traditionally enter through the main gate, while layman use the side gates.
The triplet mirrors:
1. The three virtues leading to enlightenment: Wisdom, compassion and skillful means;
2. The three provisions which aid one in realizing the truth and be free from suffering: Faith, vows, and practice;
3. The three essential elements of Buddhism: Discipline (precepts), meditation and wisdom;
4. The three gates leading to liberation: Emptiness, formlessness and no action (Chan: “wu wei”).
The steps of the stairs symbolizes that the idea of practicing Buddhism step-by-step that gradually leads to enlightenment.