Pronounced: xÄ«n yÇŽn
Literally: heart/mind eye; eyes of the mind
Means: calculating, wily
The post “Dumb Americans”and one of its comments explain it this way:
“To many Chinese, Americans donâ€™t have xin-yan (å¿ƒçœ¼, meaning, literally, eyes of the mind; or figuratively, calculating, wily), they trust what you say, and they believe you are doing what you say you are doing. For that, they are dumb. …to speak your mind straightforwardly, to defend your position forcefully, and to uphold what you believe without compromise, are all signs of childishness. A lot of Americans, alas, fill that bill.” [Link 1]
“There is another xinyan word/phrase: å®žå¿ƒçœ¼ã€‚ It means solid, blocked å¿ƒçœ¼ (note that çœ¼ also means â€œholeâ€), and, figuratively, honest, lack of wily flexibility. It is sort of like æ²¡å¿ƒçœ¼ï¼Œthe difference being, æ²¡å¿ƒçœ¼ means no å¿ƒçœ¼ at all while å®žå¿ƒçœ¼ means not necessarily the absence of of å¿ƒçœ¼ï¼Œbut the insistence on doing things in a more principled way. It is generally recognized that, in China, å®žå¿ƒçœ¼åƒäº — if you are too principled, you stand to lose, you suffer, and you are dumb.
“I read somewhere that the Eskimos have a lot of words for snow; and heck, we Chinese have tons of words for å¿ƒçœ¼!” [Link 2]