Dr. Sung Ruixiang, Keelung Chang Gung Hospital Department of Surgery; Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)
A surgeon, I began pondering the meaning of life while in studying in medical school. Young and conceited, I assumed that it would be impossible to find an answer to that question within the traditional medical field, and so I traveled to Tibet, Nepal, Peru, Jordan, and India, naively believing that only by treating patients in the most extreme medical environments would I discover life’s meaning. After joining Doctor Without Borders, I wandered between high-tech medicals center and remote hospitals without running water or electricity. In 2009 I was sent to Yemen to assist in medical relief, on what I thought would be just another nomadic trip – little did I know that I would arrive in the country just as civil war was breaking out. Because of a temporary staff shortage, I was the only physician in the area’s one hospital, responsible for providing all medical services. And it was on this rescue mission to that war-torn region that my long-wandering spirit finally found the road home.
This Is the Way Home is a diary recounting my 45-day experience of working and living in Yemen. Setting out from Saana, the nation’s capital, I took a roundabout route through Saudi Arabia, passing through countless Shiite militia checkpoints, finally arriving at Al Talh Hospital in northern Yemen. The hospital was located on the battlefront, wedged between opposing Sunni and Shiite forces, providing medical treatment to war casualties, the sick, women in childbirth, and other hard-to-handle cases. With limited resources, and working within Islamic cultural traditions, I put forth my best effort, but also experienced various contradictions and difficulties. The hardest thing to bear, however, was witnessing how war ravaged the human spirit.
On first reading, readers may feel that This Is the Way Home is simply a record of a doctor’s experiences in a war-zone. But by describing my time in Yemen, I’ve striven show how my experiences there led to deep realizations and profound soul-searching. Confronted with war’s cruelty and turmoil, and faced the limits of my physical and spiritual endurance, in every moment of great despair, I recalled Zen master Miao’s compassionate teaching: “Human suffering originates from karma accumulated in eons of previous existences.” Having human form, we should truly embrace the teaching of enlightened masters, to free our spirits from suffering and return to our original “home,” a place of boundless treasures. It was while serving as a doctor in Yemen that I gradually realized that the answers to life’s questions – the answers I had sought for so long in my hopeful peregrinations – were to be found in my own heart: Every suffering soul needs to be consoled; every wandering spirit should find the way back home. I hope that readers of my book will find their own ways home.
|Related Literary Themes：||Religious Literature|