The reality of Happiness is Bitterness

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From Kiewwoo Goh:

The actual transcription and translation of the first two lines and their one line English mistranslation should be:

Shénme dōu shì jiǎ de

Zhǐyǒu  shì zhēn de



Everything is false

Only suffering is real

The next big, composite, quadripartite glyph consists of four "kǔ 苦" ("bitterness; suffering") stacked side by side and on top of each other



making them look somewhat like the famous "double happiness" character that we discussed in detail several times before (see the "Selected readings" below).

Depending on your point of view, that is pronounced xǐ, xǐxǐ, or shuāngxǐ (maybe someone else even has another way to pronounce it).  No matter how it's pronounced, I think everyone would agree that it means "double happiness" (see also herehere, and here).

The line at the bottom reads:

Kàn qǐlái shì       qíshí shì 

看起来是    其实是

It looks like happiness, but it's actually bitterness

I don't know who would circulate such a notice, and under what circumstances, even if it were properly translated.

Selected readings


  1. Jerry Packard said,

    March 9, 2023 @ 3:09 pm

    It strikes me as a clever visual pun.

  2. Nhan Hong said,

    March 10, 2023 @ 6:27 am

    That sounds like a concept in Buddhism on karma and the illusion of life.

  3. wanda said,

    March 10, 2023 @ 4:25 pm

    It sounds like someone is really unhappy in their marriage.

  4. wanda said,

    March 10, 2023 @ 4:28 pm

    Maybe their spouse cheated on them and hid it for a long time. That would account for the "everything is false" business.

  5. John Swindle said,

    March 11, 2023 @ 12:34 am

    So. Clever visual pun? Pop Buddhism? Unhappy marriage? Cheating spouse? In which way will Chinese netizens understand this? I'm guessing #1, followed by the others in order.

  6. amy said,

    March 12, 2023 @ 8:13 pm

    Only one word comes to mind: pandemic

  7. wanda said,

    March 13, 2023 @ 3:13 pm

    That SY mark in the upper-right corner- is that a standard thing?

  8. Jerry Packard said,

    March 14, 2023 @ 11:48 am

    I’ve never seen that ‘sy’ before.

  9. Jonathan Smith said,

    March 14, 2023 @ 2:50 pm

    these are cell phone wallpapers. SY = shi2ye4 石叶 'stone leaf/flake' at bottom right, moniker of the individual/outfit behind the magic

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