Daisaku Ikeda, who helped spread Buddhist thought around the world through Soka Gakkai — Japan's largest religious organization and an ally of the government — has died, the organization said Saturday.

Ikeda died on Wednesday evening from natural causes at age 95, Soka Gakkai said in a statement on its website.

He was the longtime spiritual leader of the lay Buddhist organization known abroad for its association with celebrities and at home for its influence on politics.