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Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D. Answers:
Unlike the Catholic Church, Buddhism is not hierarchically organized. Therefore, there is no earthly, physical head of the Buddhist religion as a whole. That being said, there are spiritual masters and abbots of monasteries who have a definite prominence within Buddhist communities. Probably the most well known of these figures is Tenzin Gyatso, better known to the world as H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. The central institution in most Buddhist communities is the monastery. Like in Western monasticism, the Abbot or Abbess of the monastery is charged with the physical and spiritual well being of those in his or her care. To find out more, visit the site of the Interreligious Monastic Dialogue. It is fascinating stuff. http://www.monasticdialog.com/