love for my brothers, power for my sisters

On August 22, 2022, I wrote the tweet: “love for my brothers, power for my sisters.” This phrase has become a guiding principle in my work and life, and for how I see the world.

Increasingly, my friends and collaborators—both men and women—are telling me that it’s also been clarifying and inspiring for them to hear, too:

The more I think about it, the stronger and more completely I feel “love for my brothers, power for my sisters” sums it up, and so eloquently!

Really keep turning that phrase around in my mind today. I think you’re starting something with it. “Love for my brothers, power for my sisters.” There is something powerful right here in this. It set a fire in me to live this phrase out to the best of my capabilities.

I am quite moved by the message “love for my brothers, power for my sisters.” It brings me a sense of peace, belonging, and comfort, and I want to spread the message as widely as I can.

For me personally, this phrase means that my Love work is for men in our culture at our time, and that my Empowerment work is for women in our culture at our time. I will share Love with all beings (including women), but those efforts are especially for men in particular, designed to benefit them and support them in their specific challenges; and conversely, that I will strive to empower all beings (including men), but that my Empowerment work is aimed at benefiting women in particular. 

For our culture and world as a whole, it means that the moment in time we find ourselves in, historically, is one that, from a broad, zoomed-out perspective, calls for love for men and power for women.

This essay will elaborate on how this phrase came about, what I mean by each clause in it, and what might be wanting to happen going forward.

How This Phrase Entered My Heart

I started my weekly loving-kindness event Saturday Night Mettā in Spring of 2021, and have been running it more or less continuously since then.

I structured it to be a minimum viable loving-kindness practice period: thirty minutes of practice, with fifteen minutes of discussion for questions and reports. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get a sense of the practice of loving-kindness, to feel love in their hearts.

Saturday Night is a strange time for a weekly online event. I picked that time so that if someone was feeling alone, they could know that they would have something fun, enjoyable, and social to go to, even if there wasn’t something like that available near them in person or in their social group. This felt especially important at the time since we were just coming out of the COVID lockdowns. 

About a year into offering Saturday Night Mettā, a friend remarked that there was an interesting demographic that attended the event. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms—I just showed up and held the space once a week, without putting any special thought or effort into marketing it—but I quickly noticed that they were right. 

To generalize the trend: a majority of the people who have attended Saturday Night Mettā and my other loving-kindness related events and programs have been men, often around my age (approximately 25-35), and often with similar personality characteristics to me. Women attend, and older people attend (and sometimes kids too!), but the majority of folks were men, especially younger men.

“Hmm… that’s interesting,” I thought. Now that my friend drew my attention to it, I realized that you might not expect young men to be interested in loving-kindness meditation, but there they were, all the same.

I remembered that my very first exposure to loving-kindness practice was reading Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness many years earlier—and finding it well-written and helpful, but not especially resonant or inspiring for me personally at the time.

Sharon Salzberg in 2020 by Christopher Michel (CC BY 2.0)

I realized that Salzberg, a friendly, older, Jewish woman from New York City, would probably attract a different demographic than I would through my programs and offerings—that her materials would be resonant for people like her, or people who felt especially drawn to her presence and vibes—and that my material would resonate with different people, for different reasons. 

I realized that it was good that there were multiple, many different teachers sharing the same techniques from different perspectives and life experiences, with different qualities and choices in format and presentation, because they would allow those same techniques to reach many different people.

This left me with several questions: What did it mean that men were finding my loving-kindness offerings especially resonant? What could I learn from that? How could I serve them better? 

That summer, Mary and I ran our first offering together (along with my longtime collaborator James Stuber), the first cohort of the Give Your Gift program. 

In light of what my friend shared about Saturday Night Mettā, I noticed something interesting about the demographic that signed up for Give Your Gift. We had nine participants, and six of them were women—two thirds of the participants! 

Before we ran the program, I would have thought that men would be more interested in a program that involved doing a fun service project, with sessions focused on values, vows, productivity, and strategy. Perhaps the fact that I was running it alongside Mary made the program feel safer and more resonant for women. Or perhaps there was more demand and need for these offerings amongst women!

At the end of the program, I was reflecting on all of these observations and questions with Mary and James, when I was struck with and tweeted a powerful phrase: “love for my brothers, power for my sisters.”

an alternative to feminism and social justice movements

I do not identify as a feminist, but I am sympathetic to feminist critiques of our society and my friends who propound them. I believe that they point to largely real problems and power imbalances, and agree that they are systemically oppressive for minorities and also for all people within those systems.

That said, by and large, I have not found that I am sympathetic to the solutions proposed by the feminist activists and others in social justice movements that I’ve been exposed to. 

In brief, the proposed solutions I’ve seen tend to let hate, rather than love, be the answer: shame, blame, and victim/villain dynamics. This is problematic (to use a favorite word of these scenes) not only ethically and interpersonally, but also tactically and strategically (to be brief, without elaborating on specifics, bad conditions for bad consequences). 

Yes, I am a white male with a privileged background. I would invite you to judge me by my life and my actions, not my skin or my sex or even the opinions you may disagree with. I would also invite you to kindly tell me more about what feminism means to you and what’s important to you about it!

In the context of the phrase at the heart of this essay, we might view feminism, social justice, and similar efforts in terms of overly simplistic, but highly suggestive phrases like “make men less powerful” or “make women need to be less loving.”

In any case, rather than focusing on what I disagree with, I will take Visa’s suggestion and focus my time and energy on what I want to see more of. The phrase “love for my brothers, power for my sisters” is an alternative to the solutions that are proposed by feminism and social justice movements as answers to very real problems.

love for my brothers ❤️

When I was a kid, I had a long period where I couldn’t cry. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I cried perhaps four times in a decade. Eventually, learning The Bio-Emotive Framework helped me to retrain my nervous system to feel and express my emotions, and eventually to cry again, too. 

Other self-therapy and meditation techniques had similar effects on me. Circling helped me to learn theory of mind, to understand others’ experiences conceptually and emotionally, and to relate to them accordingly. Non-violent communication helped me to express my experiences, desires, and needs in a helpful way. Internal Family Systems helped me to recognize different aspects of myself, and find internal harmony. Loving-kindness meditation and the Brahmavihārās helped me to feel and open my heart, and to begin to feel more love for myself and others. 

I’m not alone in this. Many of my male friends have had difficulties feeling, expressing, resolving their emotions, and have had difficulties relating to others in an open-hearted way. The fact that this is recurring, systemic is consonant with the critiques made by feminism and social justice describing the “patriarchy” or “toxic masculinity” (which we might usefully see as an egregore or psychofauna). 

Even when we do come into contact with our emotions, and learn to express ourselves in relation to others in increasingly healthy ways, there’s a stigma against being kind and loving. In an abundance of obvious and not-so-obvious ways, our culture penalizes men who engage in behaviors like expressing your emotions, sharing your desires, crying, being vulnerable, or simply being kind, as effeminate and weak—or creepy.

I aspire to be a man who can feel his emotions, express them, cry—who can be kind and sweet and nice to others, while still radiating the strength, power, groundedness, conviction, and safety associated with healthy masculinity. I choose men as friends who have these qualities as well, who recognize the value of a healthy balance of these qualities, and I choose female friends and participate in communities that do, too. 

“Love for my brothers” means that the Love work I do—sharing loving-kindness meditation and the brahmavihārās—aspires to benefit men in particular, both to help specific men who wish to learn these techniques, and to influence the culture at large to be more loving. The critical path to “dismantling the patriarchy” involves helping men learn to feel and express their feelings, and making it safe for them to do so.

For my brothers to walk the Path of Love, they must begin with the body, with the heart—with feeling what is present for them in their bodies, first the bodies as a whole, including the physical body in particular, and then their feelings in particular, their emotional bodies, their hearts. To find a sense of safety within, from which they can act on the emotional intelligence and wisdom locked in their body.

To be able to feel one’s body and one’s heart fully, safely is the basis for expressing one’s feelings, one’s needs, desires, boundaries

If you cannot feel all of your feelings, if you cannot express them safely to those you are connected to, then love will not feel safe, it will feel fake or even harmful, evil. 

But once you have done the work to feel your feelings, to express the truths of your heart, it will be possible to feel love. As love, mettā, and the brahmavihārās enter the heart, you practice steeping them in your perception, returning to love again and again. As love becomes the way you see yourself and others, it will naturally manifest as kindness, as loving action in your life and the world.

Spreading loving-kindness and the brahmavihārās, the work I do in the Love Department of the Service Guild, are a necessary (but not sufficient) part of the solution. I see the spread of self-therapy techniques like IFS or Bio-Emotive, etc. as another part, for example, and surely there are others that I have not seen yet. But as more and more men come to feel their hearts, to express themselves, and to feel safe feeling and acting from love—this is how we dare to let love be the answer. 

power for my sisters 🪄

When I first started my podcast, I explored having a constraint of balancing the number of male and female guests I invited and featured on the show. I was able to do this for a time, but quickly ran into difficulties.

To generalize from my experience hosting more than 100 podcasts (and inviting many more people)—if I invite a man to be on my podcast, the odds are very high he will say yes. If he says no, it’s largely because he’s too busy, or my podcast is not (yet) prominent enough—not because he doesn’t want to. 

If, on the other hand, I invite a woman to be a guest on the podcast, the odds are not as high that she will say yes by default. Women often decline to be on my podcast. They give different reasons each time (or simply decline), but here is the basic spirit of some reasons I’ve heard:

  • “Public speaking scares me and makes me uncomfortable..”
  • “I don’t think I have that much to share with the world.”
  • “I’m not ready yet—maybe I will be ready in a year or two, after I do more.”
  • “I’m a private person, and don’t want to share myself publicly.”

Those are all valid reasons, and I would never want to force someone to be on my podcast. That said, I don’t think those reasons (or other, unstated ones) are ones that men tend to find persuasive or act on, because they are very happy to say yes to come on my podcast!

In my work as a Quest Guide in the Empowerment department, I have worked with a number of women on finding fun service projects that are aligned with their vows. I’ve also supported a number of my female friends (and partners) with their work projects, productivity systems, and other related areas of life.

In this work, I find a similar trend: women are subject to a number of emotional, psychological blocks around work, productivity, technology, self-expression, and sharing themselves online that my male friends… mostly just don’t have problems with. 

Again, these are generalizations, and the exact blocks that the women I tend to work with find themselves running up against vary (and are often highly specific to their lives and psyches), but there’s an underlying pattern or gestalt that I’ve become increasingly familiar with. It’s subtle, and difficult to point to—I hope to be better at articulating it as I notice it, with the help of my friends (especially women).

I really admire women who have freed themselves from these psychological fetters, or who were never subject to them in the first place—women who show up to their work in the world with their whole hearts and souls, and are proud to share themselves and their projects with the world at large. And I want to help other women to feel as free and safe and confident and proud to do so, too, because we need their wisdom and their gifts. 

To really do this is to look closely at one’s own heart. To know that you have a precious, beautiful nature and soul that is intrinsically worthy of love, care, and respect—that has its own genius that wants to give its gifts to the world. To be seen in that, believed in by trusted friends, guides, and communities who love you wholeheartedly, who see the power you already have and the power that wants to arise.

To do this is to to examine the beliefs one finds, to honor their wisdom and how they’ve protected us, to notice their delusion and how they’re holding us back—to love ourselves, and then be brave, and take action—to do the thing, to create a service project, to offer something to the world, to choose benefit for all over fear for self.

I wish this for all of us, but especially for my sisters, who seem to me to be held back by handcuffs they didn’t ask to have put on, whose gifts are needed by the world as soon as they are able to give them.


There may come a time when “love for my brothers, power for my sisters” is no longer urgently needed—where our brothers are loving and loved, where our sisters are fully in their power. And one could imagine a world where men needed more power, and women more love. To me, this phrase is about balance. About noticing imbalance, and acting to restore balance.

But for now, I remember this phrase, and use it as a compass to steer by, a rule of thumb that helps me to show up in the fullness of my vow in each interaction.

When I meet a man, I remember “love for my brothers,” and ask myself if there is a way I can love him.

When I meet a woman, I remember “power for my sisters,” and ask myself if there is a way I can empower her.

May men feel their hearts, and love from there—may they love big, let in big love, receive and give tremendous love. May men feel love is abundant—may it flow freely, may it be expressed freely, may it lead to a kinder, more loving world. May the whole world shake with joy and delight for all the love it gives rise to.

May women see the power they already have, and be willing to grow into it—may they be supported in doing so by their brothers and sisters, trusting the boundless wisdom and love within their hearts that wants to be offered as a gift to the world. May women feel safe to step into their power, to become the wise and loving queens our world needs.

May our culture come into balance. Love for my brothers, power for my sisters. Love for our brothers, power for our sisters. Love. Love. Love.

Announcement: I’m co-hosting the Love and Power Art Contest with Loopy. Create a visual art piece based on some or all of the phrase “love to my brothers, power to my sisters” and email your submission to [email protected] by midnight (Eastern Time) on March 1st, 2024. Ideally, your submission will evoke the ideas of love to my brothers and/or power to my sisters in the minds of those who have not encountered those phrases. Loopy, Mary Bajorek, and I will select four winners who will each receive $100.

Thank you to my friend who pointed out that mostly men attended Saturday Night Mettā. Thank you to Alan Watts and Visa for subconsciously inspiring this phrase, and to Mary and James for encouraging me to tweet it. Thank you to my sister who inspired the “power for my sisters” image, which led to the counterpart image and also this essay.

Thank you to Tricia Pickren, Mary Bajorek, June, and Loopy for reviewing this post, and providing feedback and suggestions.

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But what of Curiosity? ❓

“But Tasshin!” you say. “There’s a third part of your life’s work, Curiosity! Where does that fit in?”

Good question! I’ve asked myself this, and I feel seen that you asked, too. The answer I’ve come to is that there is no one demographic—men, women, the young, the elderly, people here or people there—that would benefit from more curiosity, that is especially, sorely, pointedly lacking it at this time. Instead, curiosity is for everyone, questions are for all the world.