non-seeking and the path
Lets start here, you say -" From my deluded state, it seems to me that the generation phase practices are based on a state of mind that does not take all appearances as primordially pure, and could very easily set up a dichotomy of a goal to be reached, as well as strengthen the illusion of a practitioner to be purified. Is it not preferable to enter the nowness immediately, without these hierarchical structures?"
Guru Rinpoche said "Don't destroy the view with the method or the method with the view." The view is about absolute reality - the way things are in their reality. The method is about removing the obstacles that prevent you from realizing - not as intellectual proposition but making real in body speech and mind. It can be confusing sometimes to understand view (what is called 'understanding the words') and yet be so far from the total realization (understanding the 'meaning') that you don't yet even know that you don't understand the meaning... because the un natural state of mind's identification with conception and its structuring of the world has become habit and feels natural. Then it is very easy to develop the conceit of "the natural state of awareness beyond hierarchies."
So, you understand the view and you say -- Is it not preferable to enter the nowness immediately, without these hierarchical structures? -- but the truth is you can not do that. You might do it for a moment now and then (or you might - as so many current advaita and dzogchen practitioners do .. convince yourself you are doing it ... but the truth is you can not as yet do this.) Gurdjieff used to say "First you must encounter the terror of your situation." Trungpa RInpoche used to say "First you must beocme hopeless of the strategies." including this strategy to pit the view against the path
Once you fully truly understand that the problem, in essence, is that you can understand the words of the 'view' but not live them then you will understand the meaning of the path. You can not remove the obstacles to the "view" by putting the band aide of the 'idea of non-duality' on top of it. At best it will bcome an "emperor's new cloths" scenario with the concept of non-duality covering over a large shadow of mind's dualistic constructs.
So, the truth is that almost all the time you are living in the habit of duality and dualistic constructs. As my precious Guru Thnley Norbu Rinpoche likes to say "You must change negative habit to positive habit to go beyond al habit." Why? Because unenlightenment is not merely an idea (in the conventional sense of "idea") it is embodied and enworlded in your life. That form of habit uses up the available energy that is needed for awareness to be freed from its own phantom like illusion of duality.
The "view" tells you of the experience of a Buddha - and the path tells you about how to undo the structure that keeps you from realizing this. The path is more about you ..... it is how the higher mixes with the lower (and in your world there are higher and lower) to move toward that which is beyond higher and lower. Generation phase undoes many of the habits of ordinary mind's construct and when there is enough subtle freedom then completion phase introduces one to the unity of bliss and emptiness. When this is also realized the Dzogchen directly introduces you to naked awareness and how to abide in that ..... but abiding in that requires you to be free of all gross and subtle habit structures but one. Dzogchen removes the stain of that one last one.
My dad had a friend who became shell shocked in WWII and had a mental breakdown. He thought he was Napoleon. For a little while he decided to get out of the mental hospital by pretending that he didn't think he was Napoleon but his habits (hand in his shirt, incessently talking about war strategy and talking of Josephine) gave him away. This is your situation. You have a mental illness called delusion / duality. You have read the view and it resonates (great!). You hope that if you pretend you are the view you will be it and you will get out of the mental institution called samsara .... but it won't work. (every serious practitioner has to pass this confusion point).
The path addresses the confusions swiftly and carefully, step by step, and frees the energy contained within them. It requires a tremendous freedom of energy for body, speech and mind to realize their true non-identity. This free and available energy comes from the liberating force of the path. Every stage of ngondro, generation phase, completion phase, trekchod, togal can, in and of itself, bring full stable realization. No stage is inherently higher or lower (the view of their hierarchical structure is left over within your actual inner hierarchical structure which the path is destroying.)
Without careful progress, in accord with your actual state, then even if there are moments of truly glimpsing the view they will not be stable, permanent or perfect. By perfect I mean you will not understand the "implications" fully nor be able to live those implications moment to moment in action. When mind becomes very very free (and yet before full realization) you will come to see that there never was a hierarchy to the path and that you 'yourself' never did any work at all. It is a joyous paradox.
The view is meant as an antidote to reification of the path. Most people do not DO NOT want radical freedom. they want the path to give them some meaning and some fantasy and then they wish to make a golden calf from the path and worship it as a self existent entity .... or they want to bypass the path by glorifying the concepts of non-duality. These are two traps of mind's trickery.
Please feel free to ask further .....this has just been a quick jotted down reply.
With affection for your desire for liberation,