The 'direct' path is so called because it looks directly for underlying truth. However bad or good the world is seen to be, however badly or how well it is seen through personally, there is in the direct path no concern to improve that cosmic view. The only concern is to reflect directly back into underlying truth, from the superficial and misleading show of all outward viewing.
The direct path is thus no recent development. It was there from the start, before traditions and civilizations developed. And it has continued through the growth of tradition, along with the personal and environmental improvements that traditions have prescribed. For these improvements are inevitably partial and compromised; so that there are always people who aren't satisfied with such improvement, but just long for plain truth that is not compromised with any falsity.
To find that truth, no cosmological improvement can itself be enough. At some stage, sooner or later, there has to be a jump entirely away from all improvement, into a truth where worse or better don't apply. The only difference between the cosmological and direct paths is when the jump is made. In the direct path, the jump is soon or even now. In the cosmological approach, the jump is put off till later on, in order to give time for improving preparations to be made for it.
There are pros and cons on both sides, so that different paths suit different personalities. An early jump is harder to make, and it means that the sadhaka's character is still impure; so even having jumped into the truth, she or he keeps falling back unsteadily, overwhelmed by egotistical samskaras. Then work remains to keep returning back to truth, until the samskaras are eradicated and there is a final establishment in the sahaja state.
A later jump can be easier, with a character so purified that little or no work remains to achieve establishment. But there are pitfalls of preparing personality for a late jump, because a sadhaka may get enamoured of the relative advances that have been achieved, like a prisoner who falls in love with golden chains and thus remains imprisoned.
So what's needed is to find the particular path that suits each particular sadhaka, instead of arguing for any path as best for everyone.
- Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon
Filched from a blog I was reading this morning. Forgot to save the link.