The Richest Vein
Eastern Tradition & Modern Thought
In The Richest Vein, published in 1949, Charles le Gai Eaton was the first to give a clear account in English of the ‘traditionalist’ school of writers, specifically in the setting of his chapter on two of its major representatives, René Guénon and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. It was T. S. Eliot who commissioned him to do this. Traditionalism has since been championed by others, pre-eminent among them Frithjof Schuon, and the past decade has also seen the completion of the monumental 23-volume Collected Works of René Guénon, an achievement that could only have been dreamt of at the time the present book was written. But precious little has been published about these authors; and this is perhaps not so surprising, for their writings tend to repel minds over-saturated with the psychism of the modern age. But those who treasure traditionalist works inevitably seek to furnish their libraries with any title that bears upon them. This demand, alongside the inherent and lasting interest of Mr. Eaton’s writing, is sufficient reason to republish this work, and we hope it may reach many new readers and stimulate them to look further into the writers he so engagingly characterizes here.
First published by Faber and Faber 1949
King of the Castle
Choice & Responsibility in the Modern World
This book examines closely many of the unquestioned assumptions by which we live our lives, comparing them with the beliefs that have shaped and guided human life in the past. It begins with a consideration of how secular societies attempt to possess their citizens, body and soul and how, as a consequence, the necessity of redefining human responsibility becomes an ever more urgent imperative. The book continues with a presentation of the traditional view of man as 'God's Viceroy on Earth', with an eye to its practical implications in a world that has all but forgotten, under the pressure of mass social persuasion, that man must always be free to choose his own ultimate destiny. The author's thesis is a passionate yet incisive plea for the restoration of the sacred norms of religion, as against the debilitating and falsifying aims of a profane world-view based on no more than recent scientific and technological achievements.
First published by The Bodley Head 1977
Islam & The Destiny of Man
Islam & the Destiny of Man is a wide-ranging study of the Muslim religion from a unique point of view. The author, a former member of the British Diplomatic service, was brought up as an agnostic and embraced Islam at an early age after writing a book (commissioned by T.S.Eliot) on Eastern religions and their influence on Western thinkers. As a Muslim, he has retained his adherence to the perennial philosophy which, he maintains, underlies the heritage of all the great religions.
The aim of this book is to explore what it means to be a Muslim, a member of a community that embraces a quarter of the world’s population, and to describe the forces that have shaped the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples. After considering the historic confrontation between Islam and Christendom and analyzing the difference between the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), the author describes the two poles of Muslim belief in terms of ‘Truth’ and ‘Mercy’ – the Unitarian truth that is the basis of the Muslim’s faith and the mercy inherent in this truth. In the second part of the book, he explains the significance of the Qur’an and tells the dramatic story of Muhammad’s life and of the early Caliphate. Lastly, the author considers the Muslim view of Man’s destiny, the social structure of Islam, the role of art and mysticism and the inner meaning of Islamic teachings concerning the hereafter.
Throughout this book, the author is concerned not with the religion of Islam in isolation, but with the very nature of religious faith, its spiritual and intellectual foundations, and the light it casts on the mysteries and paradoxes of the human condition.
First published by George Allen & Unwin and The Islamic Texts Society 1985
Reflections on Islam
Written by the best-selling author of Islam and the Destiny of Man, Remembering God: Reflections on Islam is a profound analysis of the most urgent concerns and questions facing us at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Contrasting modern, secular society with religion and tradition in general and with Islam in particular, Gai Eaton clarifies the essential need for spirituality, religion and values based on eternal principles. The main ideas behind Remembering God are that religion is not an isolated part of human life which can be disregarded at will and without consequences; that a total rejection of the past cannot be the basis for the future and that a true link with Heaven modifies all the decisions and actions of society. The continuity and harmony of the religious perspective contrasted with the dislocation and alienation of modern society is the theme that runs throughout the book, touching on religion in principle: metaphysics, knowledge of the div! ine and of oneself, supplication, the necessity for purifying the ego; and on the application of religion to society: politics, architecture, the environment and gender relations, Charles Le Gai Eaton illustrates the subtle harmony of a religious perspective and its abiity to transform both the individual and society.
First published by ABC International Group Inc in 2000
The Book of Hadith
Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (from the Mishkat al Masabi)
This selection of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad was made by the internationally respected British Muslim scholar Charles leGai Eaton. The Book of Hadith captures not only the practical and profound wisdom of the Prophet, but his human side as well. Drawn from the Miskkat al Masabih, this collection of sayings includes both the English and Arabic text and provides an intelligent introduction to Islam. Among the included topics are purification, prayer, remembering death, pilgrimage, jihad, clothing, visions, and words that soften the heart.
Published in 2008 by The Book Foundation
A Bad Beginning
The Path to Islam
Now in his 80s, Gai Eaton describes how, after a strange childhood completely isolated from other children, followed by a Cambridge education and life as an actor and later as a diplomat, circumstances led him at the age of 30 to Islam. Fascinated by the vagaries of human behavior and the strangeness of human destinies, he has observed the human scene with a novelist's eye and traced the profound changes in attitudes and tastes that have taken place in a single lifetime. He recounts his youthful adventures with the clear-sight and understanding only possible for someone whom age has freed from the passions that once possessed him. What makes this work unique is the juxtaposition of hindsight with diary entries made at the time, which gives a quality of immediacy to a true story that includes reminiscences of the diplomatic life and an outline of the Sufi path.
First published by Archetype in 2010
Between the years 1978 and 1996, the late Gai Eaton gave a series of talks on BBC Radio about Islam and its role in contemporary society. Eighty-six of these talks—variously titled Reflections, Words of Faith and Pause for Thought—are published here for the first time as Reflections. Together these talks provide a beautifully clear and accessible introduction to the central tenets, principles and practices at the heart of Islam and, as such, are not only a unique guide for non-Muslims, but also an inspiring reminder to Muslims of the essence of their faith. Connecting everything that Eaton discusses in Reflections are the two principles of the Oneness of God (Tawḥīd) and the Vice-regency of man (khilāfah). Whether discussing the five pillars of Islam, or the Sufi concepts of fear, love and knowledge, or the idea of a ‘just war’, or environmental changes, Gai Eaton reminds us that nothing is independent of the One who is Truth, Mercy and Beauty and that we, who are the Vice-regents of this Truth, must—if we are to live up to the potential within us—undertake the human struggle, the inner jihād, to convert our divided souls into unified, harmonious, balanced souls; souls not motivated by selfishness, self-regard and self-righteousness, but souls in a state of peace, illumined by the permanent consciousness of the Divine. While always expressing himself as a Muslim, Gai Eaton’s voice, with all its wisdom, its humanity and its humor, speaks to all those interested in a spiritual approach to life.
First published by the Islamic Texts Society in 2012