Shiva, Shakti, BBP and an Ethic of Love

by Niralli D’Costa

In my spiritual tradition, Shiva (the divine masculine) falls at the feet of Shakti (the divine feminine) in full surrender and devotion. He is unconditional awareness and absolute love and She is the dance of creation and destruction that is the continual unfolding of the Universe. One cannot exist without the other.  On a social level, love is expressed as justice. Justice reflects a balance in relationship to various parts of a whole. In the realm of society, the divine masculine principle can be seen as promoting balance through justice while the divine feminine is expressed in the diverse manifestations of individual identity, roles, and expression.

At a time in our culture when both masculine and feminine energies have been distorted to reflect human ignorance and greed, we see the manipulation and commercialization of the feminine in the form of life negating standards of beauty and the exploitation of Earth’s resources, and the abuse of the masculine in power imbalances resulting in inequality and injustice. Under these circumstances it can be easy to feel angry and want to deconstruct the systems that are responsible for so much suffering. As a result many of our social movements excel at critiquing the social structures and norms that cause so much pain and suffering for us all, but seem to have forgotten the essential link between love and justice.

The Brown Boi Project draws this connection between love and justice by building transformative relationships based in mutual reciprocity at the crossroads of the gender justice, racial justice, and lgbtiq social movements.  Relationship based social change is at the core of Brown Boi’s work of generating new models of healthy masculinity. Brown Boi asks people to examine the privilege they hold because of their masculinity in our male dominated society. This kind of reflective work requires the kind of love and awareness that Shiva as a representative of the divine masculine represents.

Brown Boi works with people of color that identify with masculinity across a spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation including straight cisgender men, queer men, gender non-conforming and trans men, and masculine women. This inclusivity reflects an embrace of the divine feminine manifest in the diverse range of human experience and expression. Brown Boi’s gender justice framework is rooted in the understanding that transforming masculinity lies in coming into right relationship with the feminine both within and out in the world. If you have ever been in a BBP space you have felt the sense of inclusiveness and embrace of the continuum of gender expression and racial identities. Beyond that there is a feeling of safety knowing that your challenges and shortcomings will be met with authenticity and love. BBP invites us to show up with all of who we are, knowing that without full acceptance, transformation is not possible. Just as Shiva does not exist with Shakti, the BBP knows that the work of social transformation does not exist without relationships based in love.


Niralli D’Costa (MFT #54007) is a Holistic Psychotherapist and founder of the Oakland Holistic Psychotherapy Center. Niralli teaches people to access the wisdom inherent in their bodies and in 2013 launched the experiential workshop series Moving Through the Chakras. To learn more about Niralli’s work visit her website at

Photo Credit: Vay Miko Hoang, March 2011 Cohort




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