The concept of “self-identification” in Japanese society is subjected to philosophical consideration, the categorical underdetermination of which rises significant difficulties in operating this concept.
This study focuses on and analyzes issues related to the influence of Zen Buddhism philosophy on the methods, ways and characteristics of the Japanese identity process. Rituals from ancient times and supported by modern Japanese tradition; high degree of reflection; the practice of meditation as one of the main features of Zen Buddhist culture; understanding of the principle of “emptiness”, Japanese community organization — these are the characteristics that stand out as a key, and are explored in the article as the basic foundation for constructing an identity. This work focuses on the fact that it is Zen-Buddhist philosophical attitudes that are defined as means to solve the negativity problem of the prescribed identity in a clearly hierarchized class society in Japan, because through the concept of “emptiness” the Japanese form the idea of a humble acceptance of their status parameters in their everyday life. Comparing oneself to others is the main factor considered in the formation of any kind of identity, the analysis of which also reveals the influence of Buddhist philosophy and defines the basic aspect of self-identification as being included in the “friend-or-foe” pattern since the idea of one's reference group as “significant ones” expressed in the Buddhist term “the world of existence” (Skt. dharma-dhatu). When revealing the highly developed Japanese ability to borrow and adapt as a way of interacting with another, the indicated adaptation clearly manifests itself precisely in the process of borrowing Buddhism. The aspiration to harmonize the inner world through the practice of peaceful contemplation (Skt. Dhyani) as the highest achievement and the basic principle of Zen Buddhism, is defined as an important factor that determines the norms of behavior in Japanese society. Based on the concept of contemplation, the study touches upon another important element of Japanese Zen culture such as hieroglyphic writing. The significational, connotational and denotational saturation of writing in Japan augmented by ethical content has a huge impact on the process of a personal self-identification through non-locality mechanisms, initiating one or the other cultural phase in the development of society.