Sylvester wrote:What seems to be common to these 3 suttas' discussion of the stationing of consciousness (viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā) is not that such ṭhitiyā is unskilfull per se. Rather, the ārammaṇa (basis) for patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa comes into existence only when viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā is accompanied by either -
(i) upayo (clinging to the Aggregates) per Upaya Sutta, and Bija Sutta, or
(ii) nimittassādagathitaṃ (fettered to gratification in the nimitta) or anubyañjanassādagathitaṃ (fettered to gratification in the features) per SN 35.235.
IMHO, this is very well described by the similes of the seed in the Bija sutta and Pathamabhava sutta. Consciousness, being established, is like a seed in the field. It may lay there dormant for years. Watered with craving, it proliferates and grows.
Similarly, identification with something may stay latent for centuries, until it ripens into some unskillful act.
A temporary solition would be to leave these seeds without nutriment. However suttas state unequivocally that the full removal of defilements mean making consciousness unstationed:
Rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti. (Upaya sutta)
Rūpadhātuyā ce bhikkhave bhikkhuno rāgo pahīno hoti, rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti. (Bija sutta)
Rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti. (Udana sutta)
If fact, as you point out, SN 35.235's promise that contemplation of impermanence etc in place of the abovesaid 2 fetters leads to nibbidā (disenchantment). I don't think that with nibbidā, there can be a consciousness that is unstationed, at least not in the strict technical sense.
With nibbidā, consciousness still cognizes, being without fixation or station.
It's hard to imagine a perception without any self-identification, but this is possible.
As explained in the instructions to Mettagu:
'unstationing' means dispelling any claims as 'mine'.
And this kind of consciousness is not limited to Arahants, but as SN 35.235 opines, it is available even to trainees.
Well, SN 35.235 describes how trainees become Arahants.
It suddenly makes sense why the Pali version in MN 117 has a discussion of factors without effluents (anāsavā).
Interesting. Would you explain why?
IMHO, 'seeds' in the similes above are very much like 'leaks' (āsava viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4419 ).
They both carry a potential for defilements (kilesa), and removing them completely means final freedom from defilements.