Saffron-robed monks and long-haired gurus have become familiar characters on the American pop culture scene. Jane Iwamura examines the contemporary fascination with Eastern spirituality and provides a cultural history of the representation of Asian religions in American mass media. Initialengagements with Asian spiritual heritages were mediated by monks, gurus, bhikkhus, sages, sifus, healers, and masters from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and religious traditions. Virtual Orientalism shows the evolution of these interactions, from direct engagements with specific individuals,to mediated relations with a conventionalized icon. Visually and psychically compelling, the Oriental Monk becomes for Americans a 'figure of translation' - a convenient symbol for alternative spiritualities and modes of being. Through the figure of the non-sexual, solitary Monk, who generouslyand purposefully shares his wisdom with the West, Asian religiosity is made manageable - psychologically, socially, and politically - for American popular culture.