Practitioners Should Beware of Various New Forms of Pyramid Schemes
(Minghui.org) In recent years, many practitioners in my region have been swept up in various pyramid schemes. Some of them are obsessed with expanding their recruits, thinking about how to make more profit every day. This has made them unable to devote time each day to Fa study and the exercises, which has had a very negative effect on their cultivation.
More importantly, their conduct goes directly against the Fa and the principles of a practitioner. As the number of practitioners involved is huge and the situation is very serious, I wanted to share my understanding with fellow practitioners and hope that those who are involved will withdraw from any pyramid schemes they are in.
The Minghui website has published many articles on pyramid schemes. Such a system profits by enrolling new members at the lower levels and taking money out of their pockets to fund the people at the higher levels. It is absolutely not okay for practitioners to participate in these schemes. The traditional pyramid scheme marketing openly promotes the concept of extorting money from others and brainwashes its members.
In recent years, these schemes have taken on various disguises and branded themselves as “legitimate,” “forward-thinking,” and “compliant with government policy.” They also promote themselves by associating with modern concepts such as digital currencies, nanotechnology and quantum technology. Such deceits have attracted many ordinary people. Even after they realize the deception, they continue to be involved simply out of greed.
When it comes to practitioners entrapped in these schemes, it is not merely a momentary lapse or misstep; the evil has taken advantage of the deeply rooted attachment to personal gain and led these practitioners down the path of their arrangement.
There are many examples of pyramid schemes. The so-called “Project 1040” promoted itself as being “secretly supported by the government.” The once-popular “Future of Heart” took the form of brick-and-mortar stores but was still a Ponzi scheme that extorted money out of the pockets of unsuspecting people.
Recently, a scheme called “Shengyuan Chain” has been influential among some practitioners in certain regions. The leader of the organization, Zhao, in order to attract more members to his organization, had supported Dafa on a superficial level.
Therefore, many practitioners let their guard down. This scheme initially promoted digital coins with jargon such as “blockchain” and “quantum products,” and claimed its currency could only appreciate in value and not depreciate at all. (Minghui has previously published a statement on the issue of digital currencies that fellow practitioners should refer to.)
In the beginning, the digital coin did indeed appreciate. But its appreciation was not because of its increasing intrinsic value but a result of its deceptive promotion to add more members with their newly invested money. At the next stage, it morphed into various products such as “Shengyuan Ecosystems” and used terms such as “poverty alleviation” and “pristine ecological agriculture.”
They frequently used the word “trend” and kept reminding some practitioners of Master's teachings in a distorted way, which gave the practitioners excuses to get more deeply involved in the scheme.
Only Master is in control of the Fa-rectification process. How can an ordinary person claim that his activities are in step with the heavenly trends of the time? Even if certain things are truly in line with heavenly trends, practitioners should participate in them with caution and strictly focus on doing the three things well.
However, some practitioners became deeply involved in the scheme and addressed Zhao as “the Teacher.” They followed his deceptive preaching rather than Dafa's teachings and sank deeper and deeper into the scheme to the point of extreme danger. The organization has developed into something way beyond a pyramid scheme. It is a pitfall devised by the old forces in the final stage of Fa-rectification.
When viewed from the perspective of Dafa, it is clear that any such schemes should be immediately exposed. All of them, including the various illegal fundraising and investment scams, promise unreasonably high returns. Without such lofty returns, who would be easily deceived? Some practitioners joined the scheme under the excuse of denying the financial persecution. In the harshest days of the persecution, the old forces had subjected practitioners to cruel financial persecution, leaving many destitute. While it is true that we must deny the persecution, it does not mean that we can obtain income by illegitimate means.
Master has said, “No loss, no gain. You have worked for it.” (Zhuan Falun, 2000 translation by US practitioners)
I realized that for Dafa practitioners, our income and wealth should be obtained through honest and hard work. Practitioners must walk a righteous path under any and all circumstances. The thought of getting paid for nothing, including obtaining unreasonably high returns on an investment, is not appropriate.
Some practitioners thought that because Master allowed us to partake in normal investment activities, that they could use it as an excuse for them to join these pyramid schemes as a form of “investment.”
Master once told us this about investment and stocks,
“While we're on the topic of gambling, I want to talk to you about the issue of speculating in stocks. There are different kinds of stocks. Let's say that I buy a certain number of shares or invest a certain amount in a company. Taking on these stakes in a company is just a normal form of investment. Each month I might get a certain amount of profit from it and I haven't been making speculative investments on it based on its price fluctuations. That's not the kind of stock speculation that I have talked about before. What I have talked about is "speculating" in stocks--you should all remember this--it's "speculating" in stocks, meaning that you watch the price fluctuations every day and your heart is practically dragged up and down along with the price. (Audience laughs)” (“Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005”)
Normal investment is based on a rational analysis of the market and economy and not out of strong attachment to personal gain. In fact, the returns on investment match the development and advancement of the overall economy. They will not be unexpectedly high, as promised by all these various Ponzi schemes. Speculative stock trading and pyramid schemes are after unreasonably high returns. They are not much different from gambling.
Furthermore, the money obtained through pyramid schemes is money extorted from people who were tricked into the scam, which adds to its immorality. As practitioners, we will not be taken advantage of by the old forces and will resist the temptation of the pyramid schemes as long as we cultivate well in terms of attachment to personal gain.
As for negating the old forces' financial persecution, I think we should search within ourselves for improvement in the face of difficulties and continue sending forth righteous thoughts, instead of resorting to speculative investment and falling into the trap of pyramid schemes.
“If something is yours, you will not lose it. If something is not yours, you will not have it even if you fight for it.” (Zhuan Falun, 2000 translation by US practitioners)
“As to all those true practitioners, after they develop gong they are looked after by their masters. Your master is watching what you do. When you try to take things from another person, that person’s master will not let it happen, either.” (Zhuan Falun, 2000 translation by US practitioners)
I have come to the understanding that we should treat the situation with righteous thoughts whenever the old forces take away Dafa practitioners' wealth. Master is controlling everything. As long as our righteous thoughts are strong enough, Master will help us to disintegrate and eliminate the elements of the persecution. However, we should not develop the attachment to personal gain in the process. We must not use the old forces' persecution as a cover-up for our attachments and eventually fall into the old forces' trap.
I hope that practitioners who have been victims of these scams will let go of the attachment to personal gain, think and behave righteously, and return to the path of true cultivation.
This is my personal understanding. Fellow practitioners, please point out anything that may be inappropriate.