The term ālokasaṃjñā is used in several different passages in the Yogācārabhūmi and there are studies related to each. In this paper, I rethink the meaning of ālokasaṃjñā seen especially in the context of the meditation on the impure (aśubhabhāvanā) in the Śrāvakabhūmi, and consider its originality through comparison with other treatises.
Firstly, ālokasaṃjñā is a method for a practitioner to brighten his mind by grasping external light before he observes impure objects. And secondly, it is one element of aśubhabhāvanā to keep objects clearer and brighter in his mind while repeatedly performing śamatha and vipaśyanā meditations.
Ālokasaṃjñā as the preparation for aśubhabhāvanā is taught in the Chinese translation of the Smṛtyupasthānasūtra, and the method with śamatha and vipaśyanā is seen in the Dharmaskandha. Regarding the process of aśubhabhāvanā, there is no explicit similarity with other texts, although the Vibhāṣā and the Abhidharmakośa indicate the meditation on pure objects and Dhyāna Sūtras speak of visualization of luminous bones. Thus, we can see that ālokasaṃjñā in the process of aśubhabhāvanā is an idea unique to the Śrāvakabhūmi. The Samāhitabhūmi and the Bhāvanāmayībhūmi do not mention ālokasaṃjñā with aśubhabhāvanā. However, the latter text considers ālokasaṃjñā to be a mental act to form the clear vision/memory of dharmas obtained by śamatha and vipaśyanā, and this suggests the influence of the Śrāvakabhūmi.