Who is Guru?
Let us try to answer this question by defining who is not a Guru.
He is not a Guru, who pins the disciple to his beliefs inturn creating an attachment. A true Guru merely points the disciple to seek the path of non-attachment and allows the disciple reach that state on his own.
What is non-attachment?
It is obviously not attachment. But one should realize that it is not detachment either. Running away from the family due to domestic or financial issues does not mean that a person is non-attached. From where ever he is hiding, that person will be thinking more about his kith and kin resulting in more attachment and desperation. So forcing out of responsibilities and attachment will only rebound manifold. Therefore, both attachment and detatchment need an effort and neither qualifies as default. The default state is non-attached. So the effort is to return to default.
Non-attachment cannot be achieved by practise. It is the default state of every being. However, the mind has wavered from this central state to focus on various thoughts and desires. The mind, therefore needs to be trained to focus on the centre rather than on the circumference where the thoughts and desire live. That is what requires practise. The state of non-attachment brings about freedom. With that freedom, one will become fearless. His actions and judgements will be considered selfless and his decisons will be for the greater good.
To quote from Bhaja Govindam:
Sankara has clearly defined the path to jivanmukti.
1. Satsangatvey Nissangatvam
What is satsang?
Satsang means "good company". Good company is nothing but the union of minds to bring awareness to our self - awareness that the mind should focus on the centre and not on the desires sorrounding it. The awareness that "me" the centre is not affected by the "I" outside. Such a group that works towards this goal is alone satsang. In short, the starting point is the "satsang" which leads to "nissangatvam" (non-attachment). Temples and other punya kshetrams are the most common/obvious places to find such good satsang.
2. Nissangatvey Nirmohatvam
The state of non-attachment removes desires and automatically eliminates moha (delusion). This state helps us focus on the centre. Thus calmness and equanimity descends on one's self.
3. Nirmohatvey Nischaltatvam.
With the diminishing of delusion and the rise of clarity, one will be able to concentrate better on the centre. Sustained concentration alone can remove desires totally as the mind tends to waver back to its earlier thoughts.
4. Nischaltatvey jivanmuktih
Continuous awareness and complete concentration leads to mukthi (liberation) within the lifetime.
Adi Sankara, knowing that it is difficult for novices like us to reach the state of liberation, has provided us with this 4 step ladder to elevate ourselves.
Many of us get caught to one of the steps and choose to stay there forever. However in his Viveka Choodamani, Sankara has explained clearly that self-realization is the ultimate goal and one does not need to go to temple or take shower or be in a clean environment to reach it. All of these are mere facilitators and should be taken at face value.
Disclaimer: My interpretations are based on translated commentaries and my perception. Please use this post as a mere pointer to figure it out for yourself.