Hello Peter, "secluded from sensual pleasures" is a common phrase for a "prerequisite" for jhana practice. As far as I remember the commentary explains it in line with your post, - it is both physical seclusion and seclusion from 5 hindrances.
In "gradual training" we have these stages:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .horn.html
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2) Sense-control (topic of my question)
3) Moderation in eating
5) Mindfulness and clear consciousness
6) Overcoming of the five hindrances (here one becomes "secluded from sensual pleasures")
Stage 2, guarding sense doors, seems to involve development of deliberate changes in recognition (sañña), such as not grasping gender characteristics (see previous posts in this thread).
As for me such recognitions are quite automated processes, and it seems unlikely that one can have big success working with them without at least ability to stay without five hindrances for some time (stage 6). Better ability to manage recognition is developed in jhana (stage 7), e.g.
- in jhana on light kasina one can perceive light even in dark
- in jhana on breathing one feels their body as filled with air (Vimuttimagga and Dhammadharo-Thanissaro method)
- sutta example when a monk concentrated on bones couldn't tell if he met a man or a woman (he perceived body as skeleton only)
But how without this ability developed on stages 6-7 one can do this on stage 2?
Come you monk, be guarded as to the faculties of the senses; having seen a form with the eye, don't grasp nor those perceptual images (nimitta), neither those details, due to which, - if one dwells with the faculty of sight uncontrolled, - covetousness and dejection, evil, unskillful mental qualities, may flow in.