Chairman of KL Binnale 2017
I would like to extend my gratitude to our co-sponsors, namely, Yayasan Hasanah, MyCreative Ventures and Cendana, as well as other government institutions, corporate bodies, public and private universities and all others directly involved in the process of organising the Kuala Lumpur Biennale. This collaborative effort surely reveals that all those involved in realising this biennale are full of "Betas" and compassion.
Thank you very much also to all the artists who have helped make this Kuala Lumpur Biennale possible. Hopefully, this first edition of Kuala Lumpur Biennale will provide a paradigm leap and new breath to our local art scene. I realise that the theme of betas, or, in other words, love and compassion, for this inaugural biennale is well represented in the works displayed in the five core segments of the biennale: "Love for Humans", "Love for Animals", "Love for Heritage", "Love for Nature", and "Love for Spirituality". Last but not least, I hope that the Kuala Lumpur Biennale will become a catalyst for the further development of contemporary art in Malaysia. I pray that we will be able to continue organising this biennale in the future.
A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task is to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion.
The meaning of belas
Belas is a Malay word for compassion, mercy, pitiful and love that is rooted in an honest heart and expressed with the purest of intention. In many forms of Eastern tradition, belas is taken as the peak of awareness, purest form of energy and the finest form of living and being.
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.
Merton's notion of interdependence can be traced in the presence of Fibonacci's curve across the micro and macro domain of life. Interdependence can be interchangeably read as quantum inter-connectivity.
The Arabic word for belas or compassion is rahmah. In Islamic context, it is also embedded within 'AI-Rahman' and 'Al-Rahim', both of which are a part of 'al-Asma' al-Husna or 99 names of God. In Islam, the Rahmah of God encompasses all, in every creature. The utterance BismillahirRahmaniRahim is translated as Allah the Merciful and Compassionate.'
In Buddhism, compassion is made possible by observation and accurate perception is the appropriate practical response. The ultimate and earnest wish, manifest in the Buddha, both as archetype and as historical entity, is to relieve the suffering of all living beings everywhere. The Dalai Lama has said, 'If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion'.
In Hinduism, compassion is a virtue with many shades, each shade explained by different terms. Three most common terms are daya, karuna, and anukampa. Other words related to compassion in Hinduism include karunya, ghrina, kripa, and anukrosha. Some of these words are used interchangeably among the schools in Hinduism to explain the concept of compassion, its sources, its consequences, and its nature. The virtue of compassion to all living beings, claim Gandhi and others, is a central concept in Hindu philosophy.
In the Christian Bible's Second Epistle to the Corinthians, God is spoken of as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. In the Jewish tradition, God is the Compassionate and is invoked as the Father of Compassion, hence Rahmana or Compassionate becomes the usual designation for His revealed word.