难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)


Like most Chinese, I like this phrase – “难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú).” Only four Chinese characters but it encapsulates the essence of the Chinese way of life and its living philosophy. The complete phrase with its following description further expounds it’s deeper core meanings.

Translation of “难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)

Let’s examine it. I’ll try to decipher this phrase written by a Chinese scholar more than 255 years ago.

There are basically four interpretations to this phrase. It depends on how you look at it to apply its principles. Of course, it means differently to different people. It all depends on your outlook and attitude in life.

On first look, it appears desirable to be ‘foolish’ or ‘stupid.’ It’s never easy to be “foolish!” No one wants to be a stupid or foolish person. But then, in life sometimes we got to be a fool to remain sane. It’s better to act “blur” and need not be smart. What’s the use of being smart? If you are smart or very intelligent enough to see through the web of deceit and conspiracy, you will be very sickened. It’s better to act blur and not know too much to avoid despair.

The second interpretation refers to the others or third party instead of your ownself. It’s more of a lamentation. What a blessing if that powerful person is ‘​难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)?’ For instance, if that scholar with such a brilliant mind is always scheming or setting up policy measures to squeeze and extract every single cent out of the commoners to their utter despair?! If that official were “foolish” or ‘湖涂 (​hú​ tú)​,’ then the commoners won’t suffer so much. What if the police were “foolish” or ​’湖涂 (​hú​ tú)​,’ those criminals would rejoice simply becuz their chances of apprehension would be slim.

The third interpretation may refer to your own-self suffering from some form of injustice. If you were cheated of large sum of money i.e. a certain bank asking you to invest your hard earned money in some kind of investment scam and you lost lots of money. You were misled into such a fraudulent scheme and there is no way to recover back your lost investment. Hence, it’s better to blame your own bad luck and adopt a ‘难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)’​ attitude. It will keep you sane. Otherwise, you may go insane thinking of the injustice suffered by you.

Lastly, it may also refer to the Zen or Tao philosophy of life. To illustrate this point – If you have voted in a government to run this country, let it do it’s job. Do not question or interfere in every decision made by the reigning government even though if they can’t “see the wisdom of settling for $200 bikes instead of Rolls Royce bicycles.”

Since we have given them a mandate to rule, we should just relax and adopt a ‘难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)’ attitude and wait for the next opportunity to withdraw that mandate. On a similar vein, it’s the same as appointing or delegating someone a job. Let him complete his given task and he shouldn’t be booed or heckled unnecessary; in order not to let him lose confidence and effectiveness in discharging his duty. In the meantime, we just act blur by closing one eye by subscribing to ‘难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)’ to allow him ample leeway to deliver results.

Life is so short, sometimes it’s not necessarily to be smart all the time. Sometimes, it pays to be foolish and act blur.

What do you think? Let’s hear your comments here.

“难得湖涂 、 聪明难,糊涂尤难,由聪明而转入糊涂更难。放一着,退一步,当下安心,非图后来报也。”

难得糊涂 – “总是与郑板桥联系在一起。郑板桥(1693-1765)写这幅字的时间大约在1752年,距今255年。那年,郑板桥59岁。“难得糊涂”下面还有一行款跋:“聪明难,糊涂难,由聪明而转入糊涂更难。放一着,退一步,当下心安,非图后来福报也”。








人生有時不必太精明, 要懂難得糊塗 。




“急事,慢慢的說; 大事,清楚的說; 小事,幽默的說; 沒把握的事,謹慎的說; 沒發生的事,不要胡說; 做不到的事,別亂說;傷害人的事,不能說; 討厭的事,對事不對人的說; 開心的事,看埸合說; 傷心的事,不要見人就說; 現在的事,做了再說; 未來的事,未來再說。 ”












About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
This entry was posted in Langgar. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 难得湖涂 (nán ​dé​ hú​ tú)

  1. agongkia says:

    You miss me ah.
    Your 3rd point refer to me lah.I am a victim of injustice by Cheng Ah Hoo.
    But I dun use that “难得湖涂” to remind myself.
    I self claim to be AGONGKIA to keep reminding myself not to be a daft and think Pao Kung is around .

    • How I wish that 包青天 is still around. Lots of our problems would be solved. No need to pay millions to get him into government since he’s so loyal, patriotic to the country. No amount of money can corrupt him too.
      ‘官’ is written with two ‘mouths’. Either way, they win. If they decide to spend $2,200 on a bicycle for themselves they use all kinds of excuses and reasons to justify ah gong money when so many citizens are earning less than $1,000 a month. They thought it’s their grandfather’s money. Can you beat their two mouths? Left or right either way they win. You will vomit blood if don’t ‘难得湖涂’!
      In order not to go insane and go to IMH, you better take my advice and be ‘难得糊涂’ lah! It’s for your own good. Don’t follow that Indian hero. He will end up there sooner or later. You can’t win if you langgar them.

      • fish 'n' chips says:

        It should be 官 [guān] instead of 管 [guǎn] .
        官字两个口, we are not afraid.
        What is worrying is 官官相护.
        We have witnessed bureaucrats shielding one another again and again.
        So when is all these going to end?
        Let us pray.

  2. My way says:

    Can we change the word leeway to leeching in 难得湖涂?

Comments are closed.