Affirmation (adhinnana or dhiti) has a significant role in Buddhism. An affirmation is a strong resolve, avowal or determination to do or to achieve something. When we make an affirmation it clarifies and bring to the forefront of consciousness the goal we desire, it marshals and intensifies all the power of the mind and it focuses that power on the goal. An affirmation can make one ‘resolute for the highest goal, firm-minded…steadfast and endowed with strength and energy’ (Sn.68). When prayers work, as they sometimes seem to, it is actually due to the power of the mind, not the intervention of a deity.
Affirmation had a part to play in the Buddha attaining enlightenment. He declared, ‘Gladly will I let only my skin, sinews and bones remain after my flesh and blood had dried up, but my resolution shall not falter until I have attained what can be attained by human power, human strength, human persistence’ (A.I,50). These words aroused and focused the energy, the confidence and the courage he needed for his final push to attain Nirvana. The Buddha also mentioned that a strong affirmation can have a role to play in mental purification. He said that effective way to efface negative mental states was to make the affirmation not to give into them. ‘Effacement can be done by thinking like this …“Others may be contemptuous, we will not be contemptuous. Others may be domineering, we will not be domineering. Others may be envious, we will not be envious” ’ (M.I,42-3).