Artist’s Impression Of A Galaxy in Formation

In In Search of the Miraculous by P D Ouspensky (p205), Gurdjieff explains the seven cosmoses with the following words:  

“Seven cosmoses, taken together in their relation to one another, alone represent a complete picture of the universe. The idea of two analogous cosmoses, accidentally preserved from a great and complete teaching, is so incomplete that it can give no idea whatever of the analogy between man and the world. “The teaching on cosmoses examines seven cosmoses:

“The first cosmos is the Protocosmos—the first cosmos. “

“The second cosmos is the Ayocosmos, the holy cosmos, or the Megalocosmos, the ‘great cosmos.’

“The third cosmos is the Macrocosmos—the ‘large cosmos.’ “

“The fourth cosmos is the Deuterocosmos—the ‘second cosmos.’

“The fifth cosmos is the Mesocosmos—the ‘middle cosmos.’

“The sixth cosmos is the Tritocosmos—the ‘third cosmos.’ “

“The seventh cosmos is the Microcosmos—the ‘small cosmos.’

“The Protocosmos is the Absolute in the ray of creation, or world 1.

The Ayocosmos is world 3 (‘all worlds’ in the ray of creation).

The Macrocosmos is our starry world or the Milky Way (world 6 in the ray of creation).

The Deuterocosmos is the sun, the solar system (world 12).

The Mesocosmos is ‘all planets’ (world 24), or the earth as the representative of the planetary world.

The Tritocosmos is man.

The Microcosmos is the ‘atom.’

That was Gurdjieff speaking to his St Petersburg/Moscow group. Later, he changes the picture a little, adopting slightly different terminology. In The 1931 Manuscript (The Holy Planet Purgatory) we read:

“Names were then given to these cosmoses, and these names exist even to the present day.

“Thus our whole Universe had been called ‘Megalocosmos’ since then: and this Megalocosmos consists of seven cosmoses, these seven cosmoses are called as follows: 

(1) The Sun Absolute itself: ‘Protocosmos.’ 

(2) All the newly created suns together: ‘Macrocosmos.’ 

(3) Each newly-created sun individually: ‘Defterocosmos.’ 

(4) The third grade suns called: ‘Messacosmos.’ 

(5) Those smallest similarities of the Megalocosmos, which were formed on the Messacosmoses were called ‘Microcosmoses’ 

(6) Those forms accumulating from these Microcosmoses were called: ‘Tritacosmoses.’

“By the way, you must know that the Messacosmoses are just those points of the Universe, which we now call planets, and Tritacosmoses are just those forms, now called beings, which inhabit the planets.

So he has changed his original definition of the Megalocosmos to include the Protocosmos. But that’s not the end of the story. In The Tales (p759-760), The Holy Planet Purgatory we read:

“Here it is necessary to tell you that when this most wise Divine actualization was finished, our triumphant cherubim and seraphim then gave, for the first time, to all the newly arisen actualizations those names which exist even until today. Every ‘relatively independent concentration’ in general they then defined by the word ‘cosmos,’ and to distinguish the different orders of arising of these ‘cosmoses,’ they added to this definition ‘cosmos’ a separate corresponding name.

“And, namely, they named the Most Most Holy PrimeSource Sun Absolute itself—‘Protocosmos.’

“Each newly arisen ‘Second-order-Sun’ with all its consequent definite results they called ‘Defterocosmos.’

“‘Third-order-Suns,’ i.e., those we now call ‘planets,’ they called ‘Tritocosmos.’

“The smallest ‘relatively independent formation’ on the planets, which arose thanks to the new inherency of the fifth Stopinder of the sacred Heptaparaparshinokh and which is the very smallest similarity to the Whole, was called ‘Microcosmos,’ and, finally, those formations of the ‘Microcosmos’ and which also became concentrated on the planets, this time thanks to the second-order cosmic law called ‘mutual attraction of the similar,’ were named ‘Tetartocosmoses.’

“And all those cosmoses, which together compose our present World, began to be called the ‘Megalocosmos.’

So, in his final version, he discards the term Mesocosmos (or Messacosmos), replacing it with Tritocosmos. So the individual planets are the third cosmos. Beings created on planets are now called Tetartocosmoses – the fourth cosmos. The Microcosmoses are now single-cell beings rather than atoms.

This demonstrates that throughout the period 1914 to at least 1933 Gurdjieff continued to refine his articulation of the Universe. This is something we need to take into account when we read the literature of the Work.