SMT’s Law and Chaos are code for the Right Hand and Left Hand paths

Yesterday I have started reading Stephen Flowers’ Lords of Left Hand Path, and so far it has already offered me a detailed, even more metaphysical, insight into the differences of the left hand path versus the right hand path, and it actually led me to Law and Chaos from the Shin Megami Tensei games.

In his introduction to the left hand path as a concept, he writes about the objective universe subjective universe, and the ways in which the right hand path and the left hand path deal with them respectively. The right hand path proposes that the subjective universe harmonize with an external entity or reality, be it God, a universal consciousness, or even nature itself, that the self unify with the supposedly universal and conform to its rules, and that by attaining unity with the universe the self is annihilated and you enter either heaven or a blissful non-existence. This is kind of philosophy is definitively the bedrock of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age spirituality, and most forms of Hinduism.  By contrast, the left hand path stresses independent spiritual existence, the importance of the individuated self, ego, or soul as opposed to union of the self with the external consciousness or universe, self-deification instead of self-annihilation, spiritual individualism, and the independence and immortality of self-consciousness. This kind of philosophy is the bedrock of Satanism Luciferianism, Setianism, and all philosophies under the banner of the left hand path, though it has also been attributed to older philosophies and even some forms of Tantric Hinduism.

That’s when I got led back to Law versus Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei.

Belial versus Metatron

You see, the right hand path obviously entails the philosophy of the Law alignment, and the left hand path entails that of the Chaos alignment. Traditionally Law is represented by a caricature of the Christian faith, and at first it is ostensibly a representation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, particularly their beliefs regarding salvation, but in truth its philosophy on a broader level is shared with many mainstream religions today. It allegorically represents the philosophy of the right hand paths, the philosophy of harmony of the individual with the status quo, or the prevailing order, or submission to an external God. Chaos, meanwhile, opposes that kind of submission and harmony with the world, and emphasizes individual freedom as the highest value. Since it defines freedom as freedom for the individual (meaning a being with a individuated self) from the expectations of conformity, particularly as demanded by “God”, it echoes the philosophy of the left hand path. Chaos also values personal power and strength, which I feel strikes a fine tune with the Left Hand Path because of its emphasis on self-empowerment and self-deification.

And then it struck me, Chaos really is just code the Left Hand Path, Law code for the Right Hand Path. In the games themselves, Chaos and Law are ideologies, philosophical paths, allegories of real philosophies and ideology. The order versus chaos angle based on order versus freedom is basically derived from the alignment system in Dungeons and Dragons, only instead of 9 philosophical angles divided on a good versus evil axis, it’s just Law, Chaos, and Neutrality. Hence, I feel Chaos may now describe my path, but it may not necessarily refer to the force anymore. It’s basically like going back to Chaos as a meta-ideal.

But where does this leave Neutrality? Neutrality is traditionally the rejection of both Law and Chaos, either out of indifference, balance, or in favor of humanity as whole. But, since the Neutral angle is usually in favor of pushing Law and Chaos aside for the sake of a world ruled by humanity, it is basically an allegory. It shuns the religious and the magical for the simply human, therefore it is an allegory for humanism, but it is humanism in its purest form, which is a material philosophy based on emphasis on humankind. Neutral also tends to lead to the restoration of the status quo, but often we are shown that this state later gets overpowered, and often by Law, because mankind is shown to be too weak on its own and always desires salvation by an external God based on its own fear, ignorance, and weakness. This is perhaps allegorical for our state of affairs today: we are in a period where science is rising in prominence and epistemological domination while religion is in decline and all things construed as religious are also shunned, but at the same time we still cling to the same spiritual ideas that right hand path religion would have us blindly consume, ignorant of all values that go against the articles of faith that is society and common culture. In the games, Law and Chaos always prove to be stronger values, even though they are extremes.

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