Cosmic breath of Brahma
In Hinduism, Brahma(n) is the highest universal principle of divinity. The breath of Brahma creates and destroys worlds in a cyclical rhythm.
In spiritual science, it maps - for the scope of our solar system - to the dynamic of planetary stages with Conditions of Life & Form (see Three dimensions of evolution, and the process of out-breathing and in-breathing maps to the concepts of manvantara and pralaya. This is further explained 'downstream' under Cosmic breathing. The whole concept in its nature and characteristics is also described under Cosmic fractal.
With the Breath of Brahma, reference is made to the highest level in this process, the maha-pralaya whereby a whole cycle of seven planetary stages is breathed in and out. Whereas the solar system evolution and the planetary stages are explained in the Planes or worlds of consciousness upto the higher spirit world (with reveral at budhi plane and renewal at nirvana planes, re GA089), the maha-pralaya and 'workings' of the three logoi takes places above that, at the para-nirvana and mahapara-nirvana planes. See Schema FMC00.062 below and Creation by the three logoi.
So a planetary chain of seven planetary stages is breathed in and out by Brahma.
Note that terminology is not always unanimous or consistent: sometimes the days and nights of Brahma are terms used for the manvantara and pralaya of the planetary evolutionary stages.
- for a more in depth coverage of the above and Schema FMC00.400, see also Discussion Note  on Creation of solar system#.5B1.5D - The IAO cosmic fractal
Schema FMC00.170 sketches the polarity between 'center and periphery' and 'pralaya and mantavara', see Cosmic breathing and especially the Cosmic breath of Brahma which denotes the same, the highest level of in- and out-breathing that gives rise to all of creation.
See also: Force substance representation
Schema FMC00.062 shows the main creative entities at the highest level (as per GA089). See also Schema FMC00.077B.
Schema FMC00.400 is built up from the overview of solar system evolution Schema FMC00.077 with the seven planetary stages, and applies the principle of cosmic breathing of Schema FMC00.240A underneath, with the maha-pralaya in between such cycles of seven planetary stages.
It shows how the fourth Earth stage represents a new IAO cycle. The First Hierarchy has fully flown back, see also the Wheel of Planes Schema FMC00.078. See Note  in the Discussion area below.
Also shows how the spiritual hierarchies constituting the zodiac change (to relate, see eg 1914-04-25-GA266/3).
Schema FMC00.329 is a meta study schema from the IAO topic page.
It takes Schema FMC00.077A on the lower right as the basis, to show how the various hierarchies are in process of a continuous dynamic whereby they arise from creation by the three logoi and the sacrifice and work of the downstream hierarchies, and develop and re-ascent within the logos. They are absorbed again in the highest planes of mahaparanirvana and paranirvana (see FMC00.062).
This is represented by the blue circle depicting the snake that bites its own tail (FMC00.328), and this way the highest divinity is continuously getting to know itself as the 'I am' or the eternal 'I' from Alpha to Omega.
The blue circle can also be seen as a cosmic breathing cycle, as the great cosmic breath of Brahma. Contemplate the cycle of Twelve conditions of consciousness: One can imagine that with each breath, the schema advances by one planetary stage and a whole new creation gets created on the lowest level of that CoC-ladder (left on the FMC00.077A schema), and a certain hierarchy is absorbed again into the bosom of the divine godhead at the highest levels of that CoC-ladder (beyond right on the FMC00.077A schema). This thought is referred to on this site as the Cosmic Fractal, because of its intertwined and encapsulated levels of complexity at different scales (as exemplified by eg 25920, or recapitulation)
This can be approached intellectually by contemplating the outpourings of the three Logoi. See middle of the blue circle FMC00.171 as well as FMC00.170 for the intertwined threefolded streams that then map to the three outpourings (FMC00.067) along the Three dimensions of evolution: conditions of consciousness, life and form. (FMC00.010A and eg FMC00.196 on Overview of solar system evolution). FMC00.062 connects the seven creative spirits before the throne, and the 21 prajapatis to these three dimensions of evolution at the CoC, CoF, CoL level on nirvana and budhi planes. The solar system evolution with manvantaras and pralayas is usually shown upto the higher spirit world, but FMC00.196 and better even FMC00.057 show the transformative effect during pralaya at the budhi and nirvana planes. This reversal of budhi is explained in Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension (on the basis of the GA089 lectures).
Man is shown on FMC00.077A but also on Steiner's drawing FMC00.327 in its path of consciousness along the Twelve conditions of consciousness (CoC). Of course this Development of the 'I' consciousness has multiple stages along that CoC-ladder, from the bosom of the Archai (1925-01-11-GA026) on Old Saturn via the Group souls of humanity on Old Moon to the individuation on Earth. Ultimately however the goal is that humanity as the Tenth spiritual hierarchy become gods as they go through the higher CoC=5 to 7 in the next three planetary stages, and higher CoC=8 and 9 to the sacrifice and bosom of the highest divinity again.
Lecture coverage and references
Helena Blavatsky writes in 'The Secret Doctrine' that, when maha-pralaya sets in, everything enters in para-nirvaṇa
In paranirvana, when pralaya will have reduced not only material and psychical bodies, but even the spiritual I'(s) to their original principle — the past, present, and even future humanities, like all things, will be one and the same. Everything will have re-entered the Great Breath. In other words, everything will be ‘merged in Brahma’ or the divine unity.
Not even esoteric philosophy can claim to know, except by analogical inference, that which took place before the reappearance of our Solar System and previous to the last Maha Pralaya.
This quote can be contemplated by holding Schema FMC00.329 together with Schema FMC00.062 as illustrations of the described.
More on the days and nights of Brahma in Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine here.
There you have an analogue for a very ancient statement. Consider the following fact: In ancient times, people imagined something which was designated as the days and nights of Brahma.
.. take the path of the sun through the constellations of the Zodiac, the platonic year, namely, the time necessary for the point of sunrise to return to Aries at the Vernal Equinox; this amounts to 25,920 of our terrestrial years. Here you have a remarkable example in numbers of the human relation to the whole universe. The course of the sun through the heavens in the platonic year is expressed by the same number as the days of a human life. This is easily reckoned, but it points the way into profound depths of the foundations of the world. Bear in mind — as we have had occasion to stress in Anthroposophy — that in sleep the ego and the astral body of man leave the physical and etheric bodies, and that on awakening, they return to them again. Visualise these exits and re-entries as exhalations and inhalations of the soul and spiritual element by the physical body; you will find that there are 25,915 or 25,920 of such “breaths” in the course of a normal life (the difference of five is due to leap-year days), which obviously must represent a “day” in relation to some other rhythm. And again there must be something in the cosmos which is inserted according to the same numerical terms into the solar revolution. Here is a rhythm in world occurrences that manifests on a large scale; it manifests also in an individual human life, and in the function of respiration during the day. You will no longer find it unaccountably strange that the ancient world, out of their old clairvoyance, spoke of the days and nights of Brahma, the in-breathing and out-breathing of the world; for these ancients had found the breathing of heaven reflected in the mirror of the everyday life-process of man.
Because of these concrete facts, and not because of any sympathies or antipathies, we arrive at a true reverence for primeval wisdom. I can assure you that I should not reverence the ancient wisdom, had I not had the proof in countless cases, that we can re-discover today things already contained in it, things that had been lost and forgotten between the knowledge accumulated of old and that which we are now able to attain. The reverence for ancient wisdom that grows on the seeker after real knowledge is not the result of any vague general inclination, but springs from the comprehension of certain quite concrete conditions and facts.
References and further reading