“Esoteric” means hidden, secret, belonging to the select few; while “exoteric” means “public”, respectively commonly known, accessible for large masses, respectively to anybody. Gurdjieff also speaks about a third circle, the “mesoteric” which is in the middle, respectively in between the esoteric and exoteric circles .
Think of an egg. On the outside is the eggshell. The eggshell would be the “exoteric” circle. The surface which is accessible for everybody. On the inside is albumen – or egg white – which would be the “mesoteric” circle. In the middle of the egg white, protected and hidden is the egg yolk which would be the “esoteric” circle.
According to Gurdjieff, people belonging to the “exoteric” circle are the so-called “mechanical humanity”, people exposed and living by the rules and will imply from outside, people living their lives unconsciously. Read more Esoteric, mesoteric and exoteric