You come across as a most sincere person, but despite that, you are still living in a world that has been created for you by another person's perspective and your own misguided belief system.
I am glad that Knowledge "works" for you - but that is because you "want" it to. Anyone can create any experience they want with enough "effort". Knowledge is either the 4 techniques or it is "the experience" - in either case, it is a hit and miss deal that works when the person really wants to believe in it - like any religion.
I was an instructor who was authorized by Rawat to reveal the techniques. Some people in the Knowledge sessions had experiences when I revealed techniques - some did not. So I have two options -- I blame them for not being sincere enough -- or I blame myself for not getting them prepared enough. This is very much like faith healing - if it works, it is God -- if it doesn't it is your lack of faith. If Rawat trained me so well, why was it that some people I thought were ready, didn't have an experience? We can't blame the Master now can we? Think about it -- anything that works only sometimes is suspect!
Rawat does and has always asked for money - but not directly because that would be taxable. I have been very close to the finances of local communities (was a community coordinator once) and also worked at Visions. You are probably too far away to see what is really happening here -- money is the main issue - and those close to him don't hide it -- they just justify as being necessary because he is the "Boss".
The Mahatmas always get blamed for the beginnings but Rawat has always been the one calling the shots and no Mahatma was going to do anything that might displease him. If they called him the Lord, it was with his blessing. Later when he changed the Indian trappings, the Mahatmas all changed too - either he is in charge or he isn't. Who was wearing the malas and dancing - after all? It is true that he never liked the word "meditation" and tried to avoid the whole meditation teacher tag -- but he has toned down the god in human form message, which is deceitful if he still expects everyone to treat him that way.
Ashrams started out poor because all the money was sent to Rawat. Later they were almost luxurious, especially if they were used to house initiators. The time I spent in the ashrams was done only because the message was that this was the only place that a single person "should" be if they really wanted to be a follower of Rawat - this put undo pressure on people, like myself, who did not really want to be there but who felt that "not" being there was somehow less devoted. If Knowledge were really real, then it shouldn't matter one way or the other where people lived - but this was not the message that was given.
When I lived in the ashrams, there were many people who should not have been there and who needed medical attention for various mental disorders. They received no treatment and were even encouraged in their destructive behaviors - one girl was anorexic and would "meditate" between each bite of food. I was working as a pysch nurse at the time, and suggested to everyone that she get medical help, but they allowed her to continue her "holy" action until she ended up in hospital, nearly dead from starvation. You are wrong that there is not medication and treatment to help these conditions. I have seen many people helped by such drugs as Prozac (which you scorn) and Effexor and Zoloft and other SSRI treatments. You seem to be parroting Rawats hatred of anything scientific.
Rawat always said that the mind was evil - but he toned this down later to attract more followers. When doing instructor training, he made it clear that aspirants should not have any dissenting ideas in their heads before they received Knowledge. The very commandments he insisted we follow said that there was no room for "doubt" -- when doubt is one of the cornerstones of independent thought. Rawat is no different than Saddam or any other dictator in this respect that his followers must obey him and believe him implicitly.
I was not a drug user - nor was I depressed at the time - I wanted to be a veterinarian, but education was considered unnecessary - yes, my life was negatively changed by the ashrams. I have since gone on to get my degrees and am a Professor - but this was done while also working full-time because of all those wasted years trying to follow a man who pretended to be god.
You are misunderstanding him here. He has always said that people could leave - but it makes him so angry that he also threatens people with dire retribution if they do leave. As an ex-instructor, I am supposed to shatter like a glass now that I have "turned my back" on Knowledge and him. I haven't shattered, in fact, I am happier than I have ever been - more so than during all those years of paranoia trying to please a narcissistic god who couldn't be pleased.
Knowledge is definitely a "BELIEF" system. If you believe it will work - it will. If you believe that Rawat is a Master - then he is - to you. There is nothing about Knowledge or Rawat that will stand on its own WITHOUT belief. But because you believe it so deeply - you think it is a reality. It is not! Not for me and not for countless others who have tried it. He once said "Try it, and try it - you will like it!" But we have tried it - and we don't like it!
Wake up and smell the coffee, Quoll - life is too precious to waste on being the slave of another person. Lincoln freed the slaves - fly, be free!