Consciousness-Rodney Collin“The token of a true cosmos is a particular kind of design, referred to in the Book of Genesis in the phrase ‘God created man in his own image’. This ‘divine image’, the characteristics of which we must study in detail, can be found on all levels, and is the hallmark of a cosmos.” – Rodney Collin

The theory of cosmoses draws a similarity between worlds. If man is a micro-cosmos, he mirrors the worlds above and below him. As his consciousness expands, he will perceive the similarities and gain a deeper insight into his place in the universe, indeed, into reality, seeing the unity within the seeming multiplicity. Man will perceive the meaning of the ancient Hermetic aphorism: As Above so Below and As Within to Without.

Hence the term cosmic consciousness: first, the self-consciousness of man as being a micro-cosmos, and then the objective consciousness of being made in the image of greater worlds. Only when man attains self-consciousness can he be considered a complete cosmos; only then does the door to objective consciousness – or cosmic consciousness – open.

Cosmic Consciousness in Myth

The similarity between worlds is better expressed in myths and imagery than in logic, which is why most ancient teachings taught in story form. In outlining the journey of man from sleep towards cosmic consciousness, we will draw from the Biblical creation myth as illustrated in the Byzantine mosaics of San Marco in Venice. However, we will be interpreting the inner meaning of this story rather than taking it literally, unprejudiced by Judeo-Christian preconceptions (for a deeper explanation on why the Bible has an inner and outer meaning, visit Ancient Wisdom).

The standard definition of the Greek word ‘Cosmos’ is:

  1. the world or universe regarded as an orderly and harmonious system;
  2. a complete, orderly and harmonized system;
  3. order and harmony.

The common denominator among these three definitions is ‘order’ and ‘harmony’. Strictly speaking then, a man able to maintain order and harmony within himself may be considered a cosmos. In contrast, a man whose inner world is chaotic and disharmonious is incomplete. Rodney Collin further refines the  definition of ‘cosmos’ by borrowing from the Book of Genesis: to live up to the criteria of a ‘cosmos’, man must mirror the world above him, just as Adam was created in the image of God.

Cosmic Consciousness in the Book of Genesis

The Creation of a Cosmos

Consciousness - Spirit upon the Waters
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” – Book of Genesis

The Old Testament creation myth begins with a disorderly and chaotic world. In other words, the earth is not a cosmos. Through a sequence of six days, during which God systematically puts the world into order, separating its elements from each other and giving them form, God creates a harmonious universe.

This myth, stripped off its religious connotations, describes the creation of a cosmos.

The Creation of a Micro-Cosmos

To crown his creation, God creates a Man in his own image. This is the passage Rodney Collin refers to in the opening quotation of this page. While God has created innumerable creatures in the course of six days – cattle, beasts of the field, fish and fowl – man is the first instance in which he replicates Himself.

Consciousness - Creation of Man
Consciousness-Rodney Collin“Man, who possesses the possibility of perfecting and transcending himself, can be called a cosmos, whereas a dog, which seems to be a finished experiment with no further possibilities, cannot.” – Rodney Collin

Man created in the image of God is a critical moment in the creation myth. The San Marco mosaics show God as Christ animating a naked man that shares his facial features. ‘Animate’ comes from the Latin ‘Anima’ or ‘soul’. By breathing into man the breath of life, God made man a living soul.

But what is man’s special feature? Let us note that, whereas a dog would qualify as being a cosmos by the standard definition, it falls short from Collin’s refinement. Having not being created in the image of God, and being unable to perfect and transcend itself, a dog – or any other creature – is incomplete.

A dog is capable of awareness; man is capable of consciousness.

The Potential of Consciousness

At the completion of creation, man is, therefore, endowed with a special quality, a potential yet unfulfilled. At face value, he roams the earth just as any other creature, with no evident advantage over the rest of creation.

Consciousness - Gurdjieff“All cosmoses result from the action of the same forces and the same laws. Laws are the same everywhere. But they manifest themselves in a different, or at least, in not quite the same way on different planes of the universe, that is, on different levels. Consequently cosmoses are not quite analogous one to another.” – George Gurdjieff

However, this transcendance doesn’t mean that man is a god. According to George Gurdjieff, cosmoses aren’t identical. Being made in the image of isn’t the same as being made a God. On the eve of the last day, the preeminent Sabbath that ends the creation, man’s ability to transcend himself is yet to be made manifest. How will man fulfill his potential of being a Micro-Cosmos?

Continue reading: Consciousness in the Micro-Cosmos