David N. Snyder wrote:I forget the exact sutta, but it is probably the parinibbana sutta (DN 16) where some monks ask the Buddha who will lead them after he is gone. The Buddha responds to let the Dhamma be your guide, your refuge.
I think Theravada has taken this (probably correctly) to mean that there should not be any one singular pope or centralised authority like a Vatican or Dalai Lama.
There is no need to take the first statement as an implication of the second; a rough prescription of the organization of the community of monks immediately follows in the sutta, where the Buddha favors a simple hierarchy (not to say the Tibetan organization is flawed):
DN 16 wrote:Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not, Ananda, be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone.
"And, Ananda, whereas now the bhikkhus address one another as 'friend,' let it not be so when I am gone. The senior bhikkhus, Ananda, may address the junior ones by their name, their family name, or as 'friend'; but the junior bhikkhus should address the senior ones as 'venerable sir' or 'your reverence.'
An interesting, separate Chinese text, the Vinaya of Good View 《善見律毘婆沙》, includes this:
"When the Buddhas was alive, he told Ananda, "After my nirvana, take my dharma and vinaya as your teacher."